Penrith AFC Juniors have teamed up with a football academy jointly run by first team striker Shaun Gardner as they aim to build an even brighter future for the club.
There are currently 300-plus players — boys and girls aged five to 16 — attached to the flourishing youth section.
And in a bid to add a more professional flavour to proceedings, Penrith have teamed up with the GT7 Academy.
This is run by Sedbergh-based Gardner and his friend and former professional player Garry Thompson, who played for Morecambe, Scunthorpe United and Wycombe Wanderers — and, latterly, also Penrith — during his career.
Ensuring COVID restrictions are rigorously followed, the highly qualified coaches will hold regular sessions in the Penrith area during the coming season with club youngsters.
It is hoped could then feature for GT7 Academy sides which play games against other academies and professional clubs, opening up additional football opportunities.
“The GT7/Penrith link is giving the kids a pathway from under-six grassroots through to the semi-professional game,” said Gardner.
“We’ve said in the past that the junior set-up here is one of the best in the area.
“I love the club. Penrith has done a lot for me in the six or seven years I’ve been around it. We just want juniors to come and play and enjoy themselves.”
Karl Collinson, Penrith AFC junior chairman, hoped the link would make young players and the club “stronger in the long run”.
“The big thing for us is that the academy’s ethos is the same as our club — it’s that everybody gets a fair chance, football for all,” he said.
“It’s not just about ability, it’s about attitude and commitment and showing that everybody gets a chance, and we love that.”