Blues in Braintree

Ipswich Town's latest football development centre is now up and running at the Alec Hunter High School, Braintree on Thursday evenings, writes David Vincent.

Ipswich Town's latest football development centre is now up and running at the Alec Hunter High School, Braintree on Thursday evenings, writes David Vincent.

It got under way this week with around a dozen boys who had all been seen by scouts or recommended to the club and been invited along.

The development centre, along with the club's football in the community schemes, forms the base of the club's substantial talent-spotting pyramid in East Anglia.

Head coach is Matt Smith, who lives locally, and the new centre will link in with existing development centres operating in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Bottisham (Cambs), Harlow, Colchester and Brentwood for get-togethers and friendly games.


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Development centres manager Tony Humes, the former Ipswich Town star defender, said: "These boys have been seen by scouts and been invited along so we can have a look at them.

"It is an area we hope will be successful for us.

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"It is a very busy part of Essex for football though we haven't had a centre in Braintree before.

"With it I think we are relatively well covered across the region.

"We have a number of boys at the academy already from this part of Essex and over towards Bishops's Stortford."

The development centres provide regular coaching for eight to 12 year-olds, including games between them on a regular basis.

And boys who progress may be invited to join the main academy structure.

"It give the boys the chance to get involved in Ipswich Town and receive regular coaching and training," he added. "The boys can continue to play for their own boys' clubs, we encourage that.

"But there are also games between the development centre boys."

There were around 250 boys training at the development centres at present, he said, and as numbers grew at Braintree they would probably split into two age groups.

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