AFC Totton AFC Totton Pitching In - Partners with Southern Football League

AFC Totton U23 Launch Graphic_Jun2024.jpg

AFC TOTTON MANAGER JIMMY BALL has announced the launch of a new initiative to aid the progression of youth players into potential members of The Stags’ first team squad.

A new Under-23 Programme will provide a clear pathway for the most promising footballing talents from within the existing youth set-up at the Snows Stadium-based club, and from elsewhere within the local area, to gain crucial experience of playing competitive matches within their relevant age group and via outbound loans with other suitable non-league clubs.

From the beginning of the upcoming 2024/25 season, AFC Totton will compete in the inaugural U23s Premier Division of the Hampshire Combination & Development League, alongside Fareham Town - who won the U23 Division One title last season - Dorchester Town, AFC Stoneham, Bashley, Christchurch, Gillingham Town, Weymouth and Winchester City. The majority of matches will be played on Wednesday evenings, with AFC Totton U23s playing their home games at the Snows Stadium.

In addition to playing regular competitive matches, members of the new Under-23 squad will benefit from a coaching set-up comprising many years of accumulated expertise and experience from both the professional and semi-professional levels of the game. The team will be managed by former AFC Totton, Eastleigh and Havant & Waterlooville forward James Taylor, whose sons Ethan and Leo are both members of The Stags’ first team squad. In his capacity as AFC Totton’s Academy Director, Jimmy Ball will be overseeing the programme, working closely with recently-appointed Director of Football James Beattie, the former Southampton and Everton striker who won five caps for England. Day-to-day coaching sessions will be led by senior players, such as veteran centre-forward Scott Rendell, defender Ben Jefford and goalkeeper Lewis Noice.

There is a strong feeling within the club that the introduction of an Under-23s team is the logical next step in the continued development of a player pathway that welcomes young children from throughout the local area to come and enjoy their football within the AFC Totton set-up, while providing opportunities for the best young footballers to progress through the youth ranks, potentially into the club’s Academy programme when they reach the sixth form stage of their formal education, and on into Under-23s football, during which they can also be loaned out to Southern League and Wessex League clubs to further enhance their chances of one day representing the first team on the Snows Stadium pitch.

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Left-back Sa-Sean Lutumba (white kit) may feature for the new AFC Totton U23s.

To help with the launch, former Forest Green Rovers boss Ball – who led AFC Totton to the Runners-Up spot in both the Southern League Premier Division South and the Servio Hampshire Senior Cup last season, as well as lifting the SDFA Southampton Senior Cup for the third successive year – is inviting young players of exceptional ability who are interested in joining the programme to get in touch.

“The AFC Totton Under-23 Programme is an important next step for this football club. We have tremendous facilities here and a wealth of knowledge among the coaching and playing staff, as well as a number of very promising young players already at the club who are at crucial stages of their development as footballers.

“Those lads need to continue receiving dedicated, high-quality coaching and experiencing genuinely competitive football on a regular basis to help them achieve their full potential. Putting a formal Under-23 Programme in place is about creating the kind of environment where we can ensure that is the case, while simultaneously providing opportunities for more young players to come onboard, challenge themselves to become the best they can be and to go as far as they can in the game.

“I thoroughly believe that life is about making the most of the chances that come your way, and having the confidence and self-belief to back yourself when it matters. In that vein, we are now inviting players of exceptional talent, who are currently under the age of 21, to get in touch and make themselves known. We will do our research and invite the most promising prospects in for a trial.

“We want to bring in players for every position, from goalkeeper to striker. But this is a competitive environment that will only reward those who are prepared to commit to the high levels of discipline and hard work that we demand.”

Anyone interested in taking part in a trial ahead of potential inclusion in the AFC Totton U23s Programme should email the club at stating their full name, date of birth and daytime telephone number, together with a list of any football clubs with which they were previously involved from youth to men’s senior level.

Constitution - UNDER-23s, Season 2024/25

AFC Stoneham
AFC Totton
Dorchester Town
Fareham Town
Gillingham Town
Winchester City

Andover New Street
Folland Sports
Hamble Club
Hayling Island
North Waltham
Overton United
Whiteley Wanderers

Bemerton Heath Harlequins
Blackfield & Langley
Hedge End Rangers
Hythe & Dibden
Laverstock & Ford
Lymington Town
Romsey Town
Verwood Town

By Ben Rochey-Adams

Images courtesy of Tom McKenzie (top) and Michaela Cater Photography (bottom)

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