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Belfast Metropolitan College Football Academy Visit St Mirren Training Complex

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Belfast Metropolitan College Football Academy Visit St Mirren Training Complex
By James Hunter
The Belfast Metropolitan College Football Academy paid a visit to the St Mirren Training Complex in Ralston last week. During the visit, co-ordinated by Inspire Sport, the academy got the opportunity to train at Ralston with the assistant head of youth Max Rogers whilst also receiving talks from Alex Rae, David Farrell and Tony Fitzpatrick.
Jed McCabe who is the Head of Youth Development at Inspire Sport said: “We’ve [Inspire Sport] been going for over 11 years now and we’ve taken in excess of 100,000 kids to train and play at some of the world’s top professional clubs which include Valencia, Villarreal, Real Madrid, Vitesse Arnhem, PSV Eindhoven and Manchester City to name but a few.
“They go to the clubs, get coached by the academy coaches, play matches against similar standard opposition, get the chance to meet the players and the ultimate is to attend a top professional match. For example, we had kids over at the recent Valencia versus Atletico Madrid match.
“St Mirren is a fantastic club and the thing I like about St Mirren is that it’s family orientated, that’s exactly what we’re all about at Inspire Sport. People get the misconception that Inspire Sport are only for the elitists but we are open to boys and girls of all abilities.
“The group we had from the Belfast Metropolitan College were at the first team academy and the first team manager Alex Rae and David Farrell spent some time with the kids showing them they care about the club and I think that’s what makes the difference. I think it was invaluable, I was sitting in awe myself and I’ve been lucky enough to work with the aforementioned clubs – that’s what has made St Mirren different.”
Tony Fitzpatrick explained the benefits of St Mirren potentially creating a working relationship with Inspire Sport saying: “We’re trying to get this club back into the Premiership again. One of the big things was to try and tie in with Inspire Sport; I’ve witnessed what they do around the world. When you talk about China, America and all of these famous countries [they work in], to be able to bring guys from these countries and Ireland and all over into this club is incredible.
“We want to go as far as possible, we want to be a global club, that’s what we are about. The decline has stopped; we’re back on the way up. I’m so proud of this club with the manager Alex Rae and David Farrell spending 45 minutes to an hour sitting with the guys. What other football club would the manager and the assistant sit with kids coming over? That’s what’s special about this club.”
Tiernan Lynch is the Football Academy Co-ordinator at the Belfast Met. He was delighted with the time the academy spent in Paisley. He said: “It has been fantastic. We are Northern Ireland’s first and only full time football academy and in the last five years we’ve been to Man Utd, Liverpool, Rangers, Celtic and I can honestly say we haven’t been treated better anywhere than we have at St Mirren Football Club.
“For us, it’s a phenomenal opportunity because one of the pathways that we look at from our academy is to try and get the boys into full time football. Listening to Tony and Alex this is a club that gives youth a chance and it’s a club that we’d be very keen to build a relationship with and from our end we’ll be spreading the word when we get home.”