THREE North Devon youth footballers have taken their first big steps on the road to professional football careers by signing youth terms with Plymouth Argyle. Jedd Harper-Penman and Josh Heathfield, both 14, from Barnstaple, and Dan Barrow, 12, from Braun

THREE North Devon youth footballers have taken their first big steps on the road to professional football careers by signing youth terms with Plymouth Argyle.Jedd Harper-Penman and Josh Heathfield, both 14, from Barnstaple, and Dan Barrow, 12, from Braunton have all joined the Championship's Pilgrims side on two-year contracts.They are the latest crop of promising local players to have been come through the ranks at RMB Chivenor-based Plymouth Argyle North Devon Youth Development Centre, which has been nurturing local footballing talent for nearly 10 years and currently coaches 120 players, aged from six to 16. "We work with local primary schools and cover the entire North Devon area to coach young players from Lynton and Paracombe, right across to Ilfracombe, Barnstaple, South Molton, Torrington, Bideford and beyond," coach Lee Barrow told the Gazette."The aim is not to poach young players from the local clubs, but to work with the local youth teams to nurture their talent and give them the best possible chance of becoming professional footballers."As well as core football skills, coaches introduce important concepts such as nutritional awareness, plyometric speed and strength work, as well as light weight drills for older children. Off-the field personal development skills are also high on the list for Lee and his team, which includes ex-Argyle pro Joe Broad and former Peterborough United player and ex-England Under-16 international, Shane Tolley."During the last 10 years, North Devon has produced a number of professionals, including current Argyle left-back Gary Sawyer from Bideford," added Lee.Due to high demand, sessions have recently started in Torrington and the Chivenor centre has introduced extra sessions on the new all-weather pitch at Braunton Community College. It is hoped that a new centre will also be formed in association with Chulmleigh Community College next season.The school has also taken part in a number of overseas tournaments and most recently, took 71 players aged from eight to 15 to the Easter Open tournament in Arcen, Holland. l Trials for 11 to 16-year-olds will be held on July 18 and August 1. In addition, the centre has arranged five four-day soccer skills courses at the RMB Chivenor venue on July 21-24; July 28-31; August 4-7; August 11-14; and August 18-21. For more information, contact Lee on (01271) 817337.