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Our Youth - Our Future!

By: Andy Stephenson
Date: 13/11/2002

GTFC fans are in one of their periodic optimistic phases (you know, those short periods when all seems right with the world and which precede the next prolonged bout of doom and gloom for Mariners fans)

It seems appropriate therefore that we should feed the fires of optimism with the generally good news surrounding the youth set up.

It appears the threat earlier in the year to the youth set up, which culminated in the departure of Ian Knight has receded following the intervention during the summer by Paul Groves.

Groves, who has been closely involved with the youth set up over several years, apparently managed to persuade the Board to keep the youth team funding and set up, which then enabled another 4 year grant to be awarded to the club. Therefore Neil Woods, who has replaced his old friend Ian Knight, has been able to keep all the teams from Under 11s upwards and has either present or past Town pro's coaching every age group.

This is almost unique and really inspires the youngsters who obviously feel they are being taken seriously. The standard of the teams throughout the club is consistently high and there are 2 or 3 players with real potential in each age group, with some of the sides having even more potential. This is true of the oldest group, the Under 19s who have just drawn Chelsea in the FA Youth! Cup. (December 3rd at Blundell Park is the date so try and get down there to see them.)

The main thing that is lacking is support and sponsorship for the younger age groups. You may have seen that Gary Croft and his brother are sponsoring the Under 19s, whilst John Steeples (remember him?) sponsors the under 12s. The Under 16s are OK as they get some of the first team kit, but the other age groups are playing in Town strips that are years old.

It's A Grim Exile, the independent group of exiled Town fans, have stepped in to sponsor the Under 14s and Under 15s this season, but this still leaves the Under 13s and Under 11s without a sponsor. To provide a full kit with the sponsors name on the front of the shirts costs £700.

So if anyone knows a firm or an individual who would be interested in sponsoring this very worthy cause, they should get in touch with Neil Woods at the club. He is very helpful and very approachable. It may be possible if all the exiles pay their memberships (!) that It's a Grim Exile could go 'halves' with a potential sponsor if they can only afford! £350 - £400. If anyone wants to discuss this further they can contact grim.exile@ukgateway.net




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