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Bostik North side Barking agree player development partnership deal with Premier League giants Arsenal

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 November 2017

Barking chairman Rob O'Brien (left) and Academy Director Mick O'Shea at Arsenal's Hale End academy (pic: Barking FC).

Barking chairman Rob O'Brien (left) and Academy Director Mick O'Shea at Arsenal's Hale End academy (pic: Barking FC).

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Blues Academy Director excited about link with the Gunners and hopes it creates more opportunities for local youngsters

Mick O’Shea is hoping Barking can play their part in helping talented footballers from the area get a chance to progress into the pro game with Arsenal.

It was revealed on Tuesday that the Bostik North club had signed a player development partnership deal with the Premier League giants.

Barking chairman Rob O’Brien travelled to Arsenal’s Hale End academy alongside Blues Academy Director O’Shea and they signed a deal with the north Londoners.

It means there is now a direct link between the Mayesbrook Park club and the Gunners, which will create opportunities for local talent.

O’Shea said: “Our coaches will get trained up to a better level and we’ll get Arsenal coaches coming to put sessions on at Barking, so it will be great to have someone regularly onsite from a Premier League club.

“I’m sure they will take a few of our kids into the pre-academy, which is the group aged between six and nine, because they like to bring them in young.

“We get kids as young as four taking part in our Monday and Thursday sessions as well as the Saturday morning one, so across the three groups we have around 80 children and they could get chances now.”

As O’Shea hinted at, Barking will now be expected to do things the Arsenal way, but the link will allow the Gunners to develop some of the best young footballers in London during their early years.

“What we need to do is make sure we are following Arsenal’s template at their academy and to make sure we are doing it all correctly,” said O’Shea.

“But they know we are located at a densely populated part of east London and it is a great opportunity for local youngsters.

“It will mainly be looking at the pre-academy group, so the six to seven to eight-year-olds, but not only they will get chances at Arsenal, our other older lads will too if they show their talent and potential.”

There are also plans for the two clubs to run a competition involving local school children, which would be named ‘The Arsenal & Barking Cup.’

After playing a big part in Lamar Reynolds’ journey from non-league to League Two, this is another feather in the Blues cap when it comes to developing young footballers.

O’Shea added: “It is a really meaningful link up and we have been speaking to Arsenal for around 18 months now.

“We wanted something which could light up the area a bit and create some opportunities for both clubs.

“You could have a seven-year-old walk past Barking and not know the type of pathway which is available for him.

“We can potentially offer a journey from non-league to the Premier League now we have this partnership.”

To find out more and get involved with Barking, contact academy director Mick O’Shea on 07762 636015.

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