Nottingham Forest’s Academy has forged fresh links with two well-established local grassroots clubs Dunkirk Colts and Long Eaton United.
The two local clubs have teams running from Under 7s through to senior sides and The Reds’ Academy recruitment manager Steve Travis believes this is a big step forward in helping the club attract local talent.
The Academy’s Recruitment Department was formed in the summer and one of Travis’ key aims is to reintegrate the club with local youth sides.
He said: “Part of the remit from Gary Brazil was, as well as to recruit the best players in the local vicinity for Nottingham Forest, to try and do it with an openness and transparency amongst local leagues and grassroots clubs.
“These links have been in place historically but we felt they needed freshening up. The current saturation of modern academies means that a major city such as Nottingham is being constantly scouted by clubs further afield.
“If grassroots clubs see that the likes of Dunkirk and Long Eaton are involved with us then we’re hoping to build on that and develop further relationships along the way.”
Dunkirk and Long Eaton United are both burgeoning local clubs with thriving youth set ups. Their first teams play in the Midland League Premier Division and they have sides competing across all age groups.
Both clubs have a long history with Forest and have developed players that have gone on to play for The Reds. European Cup winner Garry Birtles made his way through the ranks at Long Eaton, while former defender Wes Morgan was spotted playing for Dunkirk.
Travis added: “It will take time but we are gradually meeting local organisations and explaining the links we would like to form. We are after the best local players but we also need to work with local clubs so as we can also provide a structured exit policy for registered academy players going back into grassroots football.
“We only get a snapshot period of time to make judgements on young players if they trial at the club so it’s important that the monitoring process doesn't abruptly end inside the academy – some players need time to find the level of performance required and playing for well ran local clubs is an essential part of the whole process.”