Local youngsters have a better chance of making the grade as professional footballers with the Saddlers following this week’s announcement that the Walsall Housing Group will sponsor the club’s centre of excellence and youth team.
The one-year deal was unveiled at a media conference in the Banks’s Stadium on Tuesday, and chief executive Roy Whalley said: “This is a very community-based sponsorship which will give Walsall FC an opportunity to offer specialist soccer coaching and regular match play to over 140 local young people.”
The WHG logo will be featured on the youth team’s shirts when they compete in the Football League Youth Alliance, the FA Youth Cup and the Midland Youth Cup.
Carole Wildman, director of regeneration and development for WHG, the town’s largest landlords with about 40,000 tenants, said: “We are proud to sponsor Walsall Football Club’s youth development programme, as children are our future.
“It is part of our wider youth engagement strategy, which is our way of ensuring that we work closely with young people, giving them the chance to become involved in their local area.”
After progressing through the centre of excellence and youth setup at Bescot, youngsters who make sufficient progress are eventually offered professional contracts with the Saddlers.
The new sponsorship deal will also include provision for five soccer schools run by Mick Kearns’ community programme team which are open to boys and girls of all abilities.
Whalley also said: “The fact that Walsall FC makes such an investment shows how determined we are to produce our own players, and in the last two years £800,000 has been invested in the new training ground.”
Head of youth Mick Halsall, who has enjoyed so much success developing young players at the club, was also at the launch, and one supporter present made the point that the club needed to remember, too, how important it was to bring in more experienced players for the season ahead.