Former professional footballer Mark Beard has set up a new full-time academy running out of Loxwood Football Club.
The ex-Millwall and Sheffield United midfielder has taken charge of the Magpies’ new under-18 academy and has brought in a number of young players released by Brighton and Crawley Town.
Beard, 39, was Crawley Town’s youth boss last year, before the club decided to pull the plug on the youth section.
The new set-up, which is designed to get released players back into the pro’ game, will see the side play as Loxwood Academy in the Southern Youth League.
Beard, who has also signed to play for Loxwood this season has promised his players games against other-full-time clubs when they will play as his Love the Ball Sussex Academy.
He said: “It’s all for ex-players who have been released by pro’ clubs, and the idea is getting them back into the pro’ game. I was the Crawley youth team manager last year before it was disbanded. They did not want to put the money into it anymore for whatever reason.
“So four of five who were going to play for me there have signed and another couple that played at Brighton and AFC Wimbledon.”
The academy players, who are all on an apprenticeship wage, will train every day at either Loxwood or Crawley and also take their level one coaching badges.
They have already drawn with AFC Wimbledon, won 3-0 against a Spanish Academy side and lost 2-0 against Blackpool amongst others.
Beard added: “The plan is to be competing and to try to win the league and obviously try to get my guys into the Loxwood first team.”
“I have signed 12 already and I am looking for four more. People are well to have a trial, but we are looking for quality and I have handpicked the 12 that are here.”
The academy host Crystal Palace at Plaistow Road on August 20, in a 12noon kick-off and entry is free.
Beard is also holding summer football camps for ten to 18 year olds at Broadfield 3G starting from August 4. Call 07961945034, for details.