IN AUGUST, Barry Town United took on responsibility for the former Vale of Glamorgan Soccer Centre of Development, with the backing and partnership of the Vale Council.
In the months since, 11 rewarding sessions have been held at the Colcot Sports Centre astroturf and sports hall facilities, with the five-strong coaching team, led by UEFA A Licence holders Gavin Chesterfield and Mike Cosslett, resuming training last Friday (January 9) for the second seasonal block.
The Barry Town United Development Centre currently oversees four key groups (Years 5, 6, 7 and 8), with additional age groups to be added next season as the initiative continues its expansion.
Barry first team manager Chesterfield commented: "This is our first venture into this field and the feedback from both the parents and the players has been very pleasing.
"Similarly, as a coach, it is pleasing to see the level of dedication of all involved, as ventures such as this require substantial commitment from all stakeholders.
"Recently, we have managed to access funding from Sport Wales through the Vale Council, which will allow us to purchase new equipment.
"Such funding will improve our current offering and allow us to grow in volume and quality over the coming years. It's a really exciting time to be involved."
Having increased participation levels by a third since August, the development centre is aiming to attain UEFA Academy status within the next three years, and has received the backing of the Welsh Football Trust for their efforts to date.
The centre has also achieved recognition as a bronze level organisation within the FAW's flagship accreditation programme, with the club currently working towards full FAW Academy status.
The level of progress in such a short period has been pleasing to all involved and, with its reputation growing by the week, the development centre looks set to become a destination of choice for promising local youngsters across 2014.
Centre administrator David Cole remarked: "The training has been well received by the parents, who have been very forthright in their praise of the quality of coaching.
"A key intention of the development centre is to offer specialist skills-based coaching on top of that which the boys receive at their parent club.
"To that extent, we're delighted to also report positive feedback from a number of local coaches, who have each commented on the boys showing improved skills when playing for their clubs on the weekend."
Councillor Gwyn John, Vale Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sports Development, gave his own seal of approval, declaring that the development centre "provides an ideal environment for young players to develop their skill levels under the supervision of committed and experienced coaches".
Cllr John, who was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours list for his services to grassroots football, added: "I am pleased that the council has been able to support this initiative and I hope local clubs will offer their support by recommending their best players to the centre."
With Barry Town continuing to outline its commitment to the community, the second block of development centre sessions will provide 11 more valuable opportunities for young players in the area to benefit from high-calibre coaching on their doorstep.
Sessions are scheduled from 6-8pm every Friday at the sports centre, with the spring schedule running until Friday, April 4.
Any coaches wishing to recommend players for the second block of sessions (ages nine to 13) are encouraged to contact the Barry Town United Development Centre on 07557 665 847 or visit www.barrytownunited.com for further information.