Ottery St Mary launch new Under-18 team in Devon League

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Ottery St Mary have had an Under-18 team accepted into the Devon County League and a change in the age qualification for the league will mean that Ottery can widen their search for players who will be age qualified.

Otters senior team boss Dave Fairweather explained, saying: “It’s great news as now the age qualification is that any youngster over the age of 15 as at August 31 this year can play in the league as can anyone who has not reached the age of 18 as at September 1.”

He continued: “What this means is that we can draw from school years 13, 12 and 11, which will make a big difference in terms of the numbers we can draw from.

“When I was at school there were lads in year 11 able to step up and play in senior men’s football and I have no doubt there will be year 11 players quite capable of stepping up into the Under-18 football next season.”

The new age qualification criteria also helps in terms of the ‘bigger picture’ at Ottery, one that senior boss Fairweather is very passionate about.

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He said: “What we now have is a clear pathway from the earliest age group youth teams right up and into the club’s senior side and that can only be good for the longevity of the club.

“Craig Allen will manage the Under-18s and he has been with his own particular age group since the early days and we are now looking at bringing in additional youth coaches to strengthen what we can offer younger players in terms of their development.”

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Fairweather is highly regarded as a coach and he has no doubt that the future of a club the size of Ottery St Mary needs to be fully focussing on ‘developing their own’.

He says: “Given the state of things in terms of our off-the-pitch operation and now the advent of an Under-18 team, I feel we really do have something to offer a young footballer to get onto a path that takes them from the youngest junior team all the way into the senior eleven.”

He continued: “I also see a scenario where the new crop of Under-18s can also then ultimately become the club’s second team, which would become an Ottery Development team and provide a link between the youth and senior sections.”

There’s more good news for Ottery followers with an announcement via the club’s social media outlets that last season’s leading scorer Corey Ringer (sponsored by Visual Artist Garments) has committed himself to the club for another season as has ladies’ captain Georgia Chapman (sponsored by Carpets Collect).

Ottery St Mary begin their pre-season action with a visit to Bampton next Saturday (July 21).

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