Pinner confirm deal with two clubs
Club will benefit from partnerships with Watford and Queen’s Park Rangers as well as goalkeeping coach
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Les Conway and Phil Gridelet
Preparations for Pinner JFC's 25th anniversary season are gathering momentum after the club confirmed tie-up deals with two Football League clubs.
Having joined the club in 2001, chairman Les Conway has ensured that the club has kept pace with the leading lights of the amateur game. He set an objective to guarantee that Pinner impacted in the same way as many of its peers, and particularly from what he had seen on the non-Jewish circuit.
His philosophy is simple. "If you stand still, you'll go backwards and eventually a club like ours will be no more," he said.
Conway outlines that "over the coming months and more or less in time for the new season, members will see and experience a concerted development of progressive change in how the club functions and operates".
Pinpointing a number of external links and programmes, Conway has been working hard to cement various partnerships, all of which to support and develop the club's player base. The first is with the Watford FC Community Sports & Education Trust who will provide Summer Holiday Courses in the club's name at their home ground, the Bannister Sports Centre in August.
"Formal partnerships with organisations like the Watford Trust will allow us the opportunity to build relationships externally and offer opportunities and access to areas of the game that we may have difficulty facilitating," Conway said.
"The world of the grassroots game is changing. We have to change too and provide more and to a better standard for our members."
Two other high profile initiatives see Pinner, as one of 20 clubs selected at grassroots, working in partnership with the QPR Community Trust Club Partnership scheme. The new season will mark the start of the first year of this programme. Pinner will also work with Richard Lee, the Brentford goalkeeper, who has set up a scheme to provide specialist coaching for youngsters called GK Icon.
Although like most grassroots clubs, Pinner have traditionally operated on the volunteer model, Conway appreciates that people are not always able to give up their time. He said: "It's taken me some soul-searching to accept but this has become an increasing problem for many organisations like ours over recent years."
So where there is the need, experienced qualified coaches will now be brought in to run the club's youth teams on match days and to develop players individually pitch side. Conway expects this to impact right across the age range up to and including the adult section.
Conway said: "This is unusual and radical on the youth grassroots scene as most Sunday-based teams are run by fathers of children playing. Completing a Level 1 coaching badge is great but few people either have the time or inclination to progress further. Indeed, why should they?"
His view is that because of the reliance on the system, the grassroots game will have limitations in the development of players and not least due to the huge gap in technical coaching knowledge. "The FA have acknowledged this having introduced the Age Appropriate modules, which is a coaching pathway designed to be more targeted than the well known Level 1 to 3 system.
"It's good progressive stuff but people simply cannot afford the time voluntarily to develop their skills to then develop players in the way that they and the game needs."
This was one of the reasons why Conway set up his soccer school Elite Soccer Academy that runs parallel. Elite was initially designed to bridge the gap between grassroots and professional academies, which he established with Phil Gridelet, the former Barnsley, Barnet, Southend and Hendon player. Gridelet has been coaching at the club for several years, and prior to that had been involved with EBOR Eagles.
They now also operate a number of after-school clubs in and around north and west London, including Moriah Jewish Day School in Pinner.
Pinner have achieved a lot over the past 25 years, but Conway acknowledges that there is much more that they can and need to do. "One of the real successes of a club like ours is where people contribute and get involved. By making it easier, more efficient, more rewarding, more enjoyable and releasing the pressure allows us to build on that aspect too.
"We've seen more than one generation go through our club during the past 25 years but we now have to cater for the current and future generations and remain competitive."