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Future’s bright for City as young guns start to shine
1:20pm Thursday 2nd January 2014 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
CREATING a strong youth section is something Worcester City have thrown their weight behind over the past couple of years.
Following the club’s departure from St George’s Lane and relocation to Kidderminster Harriers, maintaining a community presence has been vital.
Under the guidance of youth director Mark Wilcox, there are now around 130 youngsters ranging from under 11s to 21s representing City.
The majority play in the NERF Junior Premier League against some of the Midlands’ major clubs but they also have an under 18s side in the Midland Floodlit Youth League.
Separate to that, former City striker Mark Owen runs the academy in conjunction with Worcester College of Technology, which has teams in the St Mary’s Hospice Midland Combination and English Colleges FA West Midlands League.
There are also plans to enter a reserve team for 2014-15 in the proposed Worcestershire Saturday League.
It all points to a bright future for the club with players coming through the ranks to, it is hoped, one day join the first team.
The past year has also seen each team kitted out in City colours, courtesy of sponsor Cafe Mela, whose director Manirul Haque was presented with a framed shirt prior to last Saturday’s match against Gloucester City.
Wilcox said: “All the teams are doing extremely well.
“Moving on from last season, when every single team finished in the top three, that’s the challenge again.
“We’re obviously looking to bring players through to play for the first team, but it’s just about trying to raise the profile of Worcester City, having all these younger teams playing in the different leagues.
“All these lads want to progress and look as though they’re actually part of a proper club.”
The under 11s have taken the Junior Premier League North Division by storm this term and are currently top, having won all six of their matches to date.
The under 12s have won two and drawn one of their four matches in the North section so far but remain in contention as they have games in hand on the sides above them.
City are second in the under 13s North Division with eight victories from 11 matches.
They are level on points with unbeaten leaders West Bromwich Albion Colts but the Baggies have three games in hand.
Worcester are sitting fourth in the under 14s North table with four wins and a draw from six fixtures but with several games in hand on the top three.
In the under 15s North league, City are sixth having lost six of their 11 games and only won three.
It is a similar story for the under 16s, who are also sixth after nine games but they have played less games than all but one of the teams ahead of them. The under 18s lead the way at the top of the Central division, three points ahead of second-placed Clevedon, who have played two games fewer.
City are second in the Midland Floodlit Youth League Southern Division, while Owen’s academy are top of the ECFA with a 100 per cent record from eight games and fourth in the Midland Combination Under 21s Division.