Kelly: Fans can inspire youth set-up

It is the blueprint Mark Kelly is convinced can attract even more bright, young talent to Pompey.

And he’s urging supporters to continue their magnificent financial backing for the creation of the Academy facilities to inspire it.

Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly

In little more than two weeks, almost £60,000 has been raised through the recently-introduced FanFunding initiative.

Working with Tifosy, the Blues are seeking to raise £250,000 to fund two new pitches at Roko, working alongside first-team facilities.

The ambitious scheme offers a host of rewards for those contributing – and with 47 days to go, the number of people involved has now broken the 800 barrier.

Appointed Academy manager last week, Kelly is inevitably eager to see the FanFunding project succeed.

And he believes an improvement in such facilities for the Academy can boost the youth production line.

‘The training ground has always been needed. We can all look at the reasons why it hasn’t happened but it is massive,’ said Kelly.

‘Not only for the Academy but for the progression of all players at this club. And if we can be together in one place in one area it helps things.

‘The venue is right in town. From an organisation point of view, a lot of scholars live in and around there so it’s very easy for them to get to work in the mornings.

‘But it is also about identification and everyone can see it. This is what the fans can create.

‘People can see it, it is part of the city, they know where it is, they know where we work from, they know how it works,

‘That is massive when it comes to a parent and saying “the infrastructures are coming, the process is coming, your boy has a real opportunity of playing for the football club he loves” – and that is what we want to see happen.

‘It’s a crazy world youth development at times. You can get nine-year-old boys travelling up to Brighton three days a week and on a Sunday because they have an infrastructure, they have got a training ground and it is all nice when you walk in.

‘But if we have got something that can challenge it, show where it is going, tick the boxes and show we can get our work done, then maybe we can get more kids.’

Kelly has been promoted from coaching the eight to 11-year-olds at Fratton Park. And he can fully comprehend the importance of fans helping fund the implementation of new youth facilities.

He added: ‘At the moment we are still at the University of Portsmouth, keeping the first team and youth team together.

‘We want to maintain that link and that is why it is important to relocate with them to Roko.

‘If someone is doing well in the youth team and deserves to make the step up, it is so much easier if you can basically walk on to the next pitch.

‘It’s about keeping the club together as well. You don’t want to feel there are fragments – everybody working alongside each other is vital.

‘You want the young pros to understand and be around the first-team environment because that is the education, the learning process.’

To contribute to the FanFunding project, fans can visit tifosy.com/pompey