Reading FC legend launches academy – Reading Today Online

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READING FC legend Dave Kitson has launched a new football academy in the town.

The striker, who was part of Reading’s famous ‘106’ winning Championship team in 2005/06, outlined his vision for the academy where he wants to pass on his skills and experience to help young footballers from under 9s to under 23s develop football and life skills.

“Everybody I grew up with wanted to be a footballer,” said Kitson.

“Three kids from the same street in Letchworth of 36 houses became professional footballers. Nobody cared what level they played at so long as they could call football their full time job.

“Quality coaching was not available to us in the 1990s. Even coaches at some professional clubs didn’t have the required badges to coach, they were in place because of friends within the industry that put them there.

“The FA has identified that the UK was severely lacking in the kinds of numbers of people taking up coaching qualifications.

For two decades, Spain, France, Germany and Italy were quadrupling the amount of professional coaches they produced each year compared to the UK.

“Only now has professional coaching become available to the wider public and online videos, and makes it possible to get a chance to learn what elite coaching looks like.

“However, we are still missing the most fundamental aspect of deploying what we have learned at the feet of the next generation of talent: Academies that are available to everybody.

“There are only 28 Category One academies in the UK. These are academies that coach from under 9 to under 23 year olds. And so, learning the latest coaching techniques and having an outlet to teach children the latest trends is still, unfortunately, the privilege of a very select number of children, exclusively at professional clubs.”

Kitson played a total of 420 appearances both throughout the English Football League and Premier League throughout his career.

During that time he played for Reading, Stoke City, Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, Sheffield United and others.

Reflecting on his professional career, he continued: “I’m immensely proud having spent five successful years at Reading. Having not been from the area originally, the biggest lesson that I have learned as an outsider coming in is that you can still have an enormous impact on the community.

“Reading is a big town, and a proud town, that has never been given the credit it deserves for a whole host of things, from the football club breaking the points record to the university being the world leader in climate change and being continually overlooked for City status.

“I can pinpoint the football club’s success in the mid 2000s as the turning point in Reading’s fortunes. It really did put the town on the map.

“The train station is now one of the largest hubs in the UK, the university is finally getting recognition for its lead on environmental issues, and world class facilities such as the Shinfield film studios are close to completion.

“The impact of the football club on the town cannot be underestimated.”

The former Premier League forward also outlined his objectives his new academy.

He said: “I want to help Berkshire become a footballing hotbed that provides good opportunities for young players to develop their football and life skills – and to be part of developing the best talent that the county has to offer.

“There are a huge number of grassroots clubs with tens of thousands of people playing football every day of the week.

“In terms of provision for quality, elite coaching, Berkshire does not currently have the footballing cache, nor the numbers of qualified high level coaches that have played at the highest level, that can implement the very latest coaching techniques enjoyed exclusively by the elite category one

academies in Britain.

“My primary ambition is to establish an equivalent category one academy in Reading, with other hubs across Berkshire, that is accessible to every relevant age group.

“The ‘holy grail’ would be to produce a professional footballer and I believe there is no reason why we can’t achieve that.

“But more importantly, the academy will have at its core the mantra that we produce well coached, well rounded individuals who are ready for the world once they have finished their time with us.

“Starting in Reading, I would eventually like to see The Dave Kitson Academy represented in multiple countries worldwide.

“The academy is for boys and girls – and young men and women – who want to enjoy elite academy-quality coaching. The academy is open to anybody that wishes to sign up, as well as those players that qualify for an education both at home and abroad and which is subsidised by the

government.

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