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We are pleased to announce that we will be running an Under 15 side in the Eastern Junior Alliance this season. However, the under 15 side that represented the club last season has been disbanded. The following article explains the background to the decision making.
Getting youth teams set up from scratch is a far cry from how it used to be. The FA directs that even at the grass roots level its required disciplines and protocols, where youth teams are now concerned, have their bars positioned at a high starting point. As a result and taking what I believe to be an increasingly more professional approach, not to mention the high status of Hendon FC, youth development officer Alan Rolnick looked into what was missing last season and subsequently what was needed to move our youth programme forward in a more dynamic way.
Last season's U15s was comprised of a high proportion of players who were coming from many parts of London, and were reliant on public transport to get to training and games. This caused a number of problems during the season, and it was for this reason that it was decided that it wouldn't be practical to advance last season's U15 squad to U16 level.
Tony Payne, who took over as manager mid-season from Andrew Reith who had to return to Scotland for personal reasons, did a tremendous job and we are very grateful to him for taking the bull by the horns and getting on with the job.
It was decided that we would work on the firm establishment of just one age group, and the first step was to bring in players where a squad could be created and would progress through the age groups season by season. That being the case, Alan Rolnick has chosen to run another U15 squad and the new crop of players are all coming from one main catchment area. This means that prompt attendance for matches and training will be achieved, and also there is lots of support from the parents, something that was lacking last season, and is extremely important for a successful youth side. Running a youth squad and providing it with proper and appropriate facilities which such a scheme demands does not come cheaply.
Ever since the club launched the youth teams in 1995, the vast majority of teams have been affiliated to the Harrow Youth League, an association that has always been a rewarding one. However, we have been attracted to the Eastern Junior Alliance (EJA) as they insist that every member club has to be linked to a senior non-league club playing at least at Step 6 in the non-league pyramid (Hendon play at Step 3). The standards that the EJA lay down, even though it is for youth football, have to be as much as is reasonably possible in line with which a senior club team has to confirm. Home venues are inspected for quality, and pitches must be roped off, with spectators remaining behind the rope. Pre-match, half-time and post-match facilities have to be laid on for the officials of opponents and the referee. A parents' committee is already firmly in place to arrange the many things which will surround each and every match day outside the actual game.
The manager of the new U15 side is Mark Chapman and his assistant is Daniel Berman. Terry Light, who is a fully qualified paramedic, will officiate at matches to take care of any injured players, and the team coach is John Thurlock who has worked with a number of major professional clubs.
For the coming season the squad will have a new playing strip, the cost of which has been donated by Salvatore Contino of Sapori D'Italia. Home games will be played at the Cheshunt Country Club very close to Junction 25 of the M25. It is a privately run concern offering excellent facilities in its surroundings both on and off the pitch. Midweek training sessions, once the dark evenings draw in, will take place at London Maccabi's G3 surfaced and modern floodlit facility in Rowley Lane, Arkley (near Barnet).
The team will be playing in the EJA's London Division, and their opponents will be Barking, Cheshunt, Chelmsford City, Clapton. London APSA, Manford Way, Ryan, Redbridge and Snaresbrook & Interwood.
The team are well into their pre-season training programme, and Alan Rolnick believes that we have a very promising team on our hands. All the players are extremely committed and looking forward to their opening fixture in September. In keeping with our knowledge of playing level of our opponents we are expecting stiff competition for this season.
The club are very grateful to Alan for all the hard work that he puts in for our youth team, and we are hoping that this will be the beginning of Hendon being a force to be reckoned with in youth football again in the years to come.