Albion Sports Juniors from Bradford Report by Pav Singh
Background and Brief History
In 1974, a group of young customers from the Albion Sports public house in Bradford got together and decided they wanted to enter a football team into a local league tournament. This was an all too familiar story - but with a twist. The young men involved were British Asians. The Albion Sports landlord agreed to pay their £5 entrance fee and, in return, the team was named Albion Sports FC.
The new club joined the Bradford Amateur Sunday League and were champions of Division Four in their first season. A string of honours followed before Albion Sports became Bradford Sunday Alliance Premier Division
champions for the first time in 1995-1996 and also won the Bradford & District Sunday Cup in the same season.
Albion's greatest achievements, however, have been in winning the British Asian Cup at both Celtic Park and the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow in 2000, 2001 & 2004. These successes have led to three civic receptions for the club hosted by the City of Bradford.
In 2000 Albion Sports were also the first ever side from Bradford - and the first Asian club - to reach the final of the national FA Sunday Cup. In 2005 the club reached the final of this prestigious national competition once again, as well as the finals of the Bradford Senior League Cup and the Bradford & District Cup. Albion Sports have become a major force in local football, not only within the Bradford District, but are also well recognised and well supported both regionally and nationally.
Coaching and youth development
In June 2001 the Albion Sports Management Committee decided to set up a Friday night coaching session for local youngsters. The aim was to develop a junior section within the club, offering quality coaching and football opportunities to provide player pathways for Asian kids and other youngsters in the local area.
The coaching sessions moved on with the introduction, as coaches, of a group of Albion first team players, all of whom have all obtained UEFA/ FA coaching qualifications. Each coach works alongside the team managers and assistants who have also obtained level 1 coaching qualifications.
We had to struggle right from the start. It was always one step forward, two steps back. I think we have moved on because of our own efforts, not because the game has really changed for Asian people." Pav Singh
The coaches provide quality sessions, but with the emphasis on fun and enjoyment for players who live in a variety of communities within the Bradford district. Players of all ages and from different ethnic backgrounds have joined the junior set up from places such as Bradford Moor, Undercliffe, Thornbury, Manningham, West Bowling, Buttershaw and Pudsey.
The key aims for the Friday coaching sessions are to provide young people in the community with an opportunity
to receive coaching from FA-qualified coaches. It is hoped that boys and girls will reach a standard of play sufficient for organised league matches. The Albion Sports club is committed to as many children as possible enjoying the football experience regardless of age, gender, race and ability. It is very proud of its achievements in this area and Albion Sports wishes to maintain the 'family friendly' atmosphere that runs throughout the club.
Current & Future Coaching and Playing Developments
The Albion coaching sessions are beginning to expand with girls' coaching sessions planned for the near future. Albion Sports has also linked up with local secondary school Carlton Bolling, which is based in the heart of inner city Bradford, to establish a base for junior players and to attract more youngsters to the club. The school
is acquiring a new astro turf facility which will mean all junior coaching sessions and holiday courses at Carlton Bolling will be run by Albion Sports.
Another site near Carlton Bolling School is undergoing a major redevelopment in the next few years in association
with funding from the Football Foundation and Bradford Council Sport & Leisure Department. It seems likely that all Albion first team and junior teams will have access to the new high quality pitches at this site. Albion Sports looks set for a bright future.
The club has already successfully gained the FA Charter Standard Award, the quality mark for senior local football clubs in this country.
Friday coaching sessions are now delivered by three FA Level 2 coaches and are mentored and overlooked by Level 3 B licence coaches.
Qualified coaches also organise training sessions for children aged 6-16, both boys and girls.
Albion Sports has now set up a number of junior teams (Under 8, Under 10, Under 12 A & B teams and Under 14s), with two age group teams playing organized football in Affiliated Leagues.
The Albion Sports adult first team are planning a transfer from the Bradford Sunday Alliance Premier to a Saturday League, where the club already fields second & third teams.
The New Link With Leeds United
The club has formed an exciting new link with Leeds United. Dave Harrison (head of player recruitment at Leeds) has agreed to use Albion Sports coaches to set up an Inner City Football Development Centre in Bradford.
Two Albion coaches are also coaching at the Leeds United Football Development Centre,. The Albion coaches attend in-service training delivered at the Leeds United Training ground at Thorp Arch.
Our link with Leeds United has really spurred us on. But more professional clubs need to start doing something with local Asian clubs. We are a real exception." Pav Singh
Some of the club's junior players have been channelled into the Leeds United Development Centre, which has attracted
a mix of quality players from across the Bradford and Leeds District. Albion Sports are now looking at the possibility of progressing these players into Leeds United junior 'shadow' squads and then into the Academy itself. Two adult players have become official scouts for Leeds United as Albion Sports and Leeds United together
are showing the way for young Asians into the professional game.
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