Gloucester City forward Matt McClure believes that by the club providing opportunities for young players to develop their education on and off the field, they will see the benefit of bringing in the next generation of talent.
McClure is part of Gloucester City’s Elite Development Centre Programme along with teammates Fabien Robert, Josh Thomas and Jake Cole and together they are looking to put together a clear pathway for 16-19 year olds into developing future first team players.
“We aim to provide the local youth a platform and a pathway for the students to start their careers in sport, whether that be on the pitch, off the pitch or both,” McClure told Severn Sport about the programme.
“It’s massively important for young people in Gloucester from all paths, whether they’ve failed all exams or passed with flying colours, to have a programme they can believe in and a programme where their best interests are at heart.
Life is about opportunity and that’s what we aim to give them along with the belief that they can progress and make a career within football,” added McClure.
The 28 year old Tigers forward started his youth career at Crystal Palace before joining Wycombe Wanderers and after spells at Dagenham & Redbridge, Aldershot Town and Maidstone United joined City early in 2020 and has also been brought in to run the programme – something he is passionate about and has encourage prospective students to register their interest.
“I was bought in as a player and to head up the Foundation side of things and the programme is something I’d seen work well at previous clubs and seemed like a no brainer to set up here, not only to give young people a chance but to also start bridging the gap between the youth and the First Team here at Gloucester City.
Students should expect a very professional approach to everything on this course and although we are a football club, the classroom is the main emphasis in this programme.
We want the students to leave with good grades and be competent to go out ready for work or take their education the next step at University. The football side is self explanatory, the students will work closely alongside and be coached by Professional Footballers who have played hundreds of games in the Football League.
For any aspiring footballer, this really is the opportunity of a lifetime to really have a crack at earning a contract and fulfilling your dreams on the pitch,” McClure added.
We spoke to McClure ahead of the club’s final trial for the programme, which takes place on Friday 4th September at the Walls Club in Barnwood, Gloucester.
The trial comes just days after the club announced the first player to sign First Team forms having joined the programme in former Tuffley Rovers and Hartpury winger Charlie Holliday and McClure predicts Holliday will be the first of many players to get an opportunity at the club.
“Charlie Holliday has done so well since I first saw him at a trial,” said McClure.
“He has progressed quickly and taken his opportunity with both hands which I’m delighted about. Charlie was well schooled previously to joining us only a short time ago, however the difference again is opportunity and having someone believe in your ability.
I’m sure we will see more and more talented players progress over the next few years,” said the forward.
Gloucester City First Team manager James Rowe told Severn Sport how happy he is to start seeing fruits of the programme coming through.
“Charlie has been excellent and it’s exactly how I see the club developing. It’s getting close to how I want the structure [of the club] with home grown players developing and mixing with the experienced players like [Gavin] Gunning and [Matt] McClure.”
For anyone looking to register their interest in attending the trial on Friday, please see the contact details below.
Cover photo of EDCP and First Team player Charlie Holliday making debut at Slimbridge last weekend- copyright with Neil Phelps @tigerroar