Soccer stars start young

Joseph Bulmer

NORTH Devon’s youngest footballers are having fun and honing their skills at an Ilfracombe coaching school catering for boys and girls between the ages of just two and six years.

The community group Ben’s Pre School Football started in April 2010 in Ilfracombe and offers youngsters the chance not only to learn basic football skills, but also hand-eye co-ordination, balance and self confidence, said its founder Ben Stephens.

Now he is hoping for bigger and better things in 2012 and a possible expansion into Barnstaple.

The group is linked with Braunton Football Club and with the Chivenor Soccer School, which is part of Plymouth Argyle’s Centre of Excellence. It is sponsored by South West Water, enabling kits to be made up for the children.

Ben recently won a Pride of Ilfracombe Award for Positive Influence Within The Community for his work with the children.

He is a local football coach, who has worked with youth teams in North Devon and West Oxfordshire as an assistant manager and manager.

Ben is currently studying for a BSc Hons Degree in sports science at the University of Marjon in Plymouth. He has had work experience with Watford FC and Reading FC and will this year be having a further two periods of work experience with Everton FC and Glenn Hoddle’s Football Academy in Southern Spain.

The pre-school classes are held every Saturday morning at the Emmanuel Church in Wilder Road, Ilfracombe, and there are now plans to move into Barnstaple.

Ben said: “Each class lasts for 45 minutes and costs just �2. Parents’ participation is essential. Our main aim is to have fun with football. We play a range of different games to keep their interest up, while still improving their skills and personal development.”

For more details or to register interest in starting classes in Barnstaple, call 07792388891.