Budding young footballers will be given the chance to learn from the best as four Boro legends bring their coaching skills to Billingham.
Bernie Slaven, Craig Hignett, Gary Pallister and Curtis Fleming are inspiring a new generation of young players with their Reds Football Academy.
First launched at The Sports Village in Middlesbrough last summer, Gary Pallister said: “The aim of the Academy was to give something back.”
Not surprisingly, with coaching available from some of the region’s best known names in football, the sessions proved popular.
Now bringing the Academy to the SRC Sports Centre in Billingham, former Boro defender Curtis Fleming said: “I don’t think we expected to extend into a second venue as quickly as we have, but this gives us the opportunity to reach more young people in the area.”
Gary, a former Billingham Town player himself, going on to play for Middlesbrough and Manchester United, said: “I did a lot of growing up in Billingham and know that there’s a lot of talent in this area that can be tapped in to.”
Making over 300 appearances with Boro during his professional career, striker Bernie Slaven said: “I’ve been coaching kids for a few years now and it is something that I genuinely enjoy.
“Some of the younger kids don’t know us as players but with the latest technology and a little bit of nudging from their dads, you do get those saying that they’ve watched us on You Tube.”
Bernie added: “For us it is about being able to pass on a bit of experience and sharing our enjoyment of the sport.”
Fitting the Reds Academy around what must be a hectic working schedule, Craig Hignett was appointed Hartlepool United manager in February this year. Still, he said: “We set the Academy up to be a long term thing, not just a flash in the pan, giving the kids some proper coaching and we are committed to that 100%.
“It is important that you can pass on a bit of knowledge to the kids and help put them on the right path.”
Welcoming the Boro legends to the SRC Sports Centre, manager Dave Morgan said: “We are delighted the lads are bringing the Reds Academy to Billingham.
“I grew up watching these players for club and some at international level.
“For any child who has an aspiration to become a footballer this is an amazing opportunity to be coached by former players of this calibre.”
The SRC Sports Centre, which is situated on the grounds of SRC Bede Sixth Form, will be hosting a Reds Football Academy taster session for those interested in getting involved on Thursday April 14 from 6pm-7pm. For more details or to book your place call the centre on 01642 373 288.