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Women's Football News
Essex' Female Player Development Centre (PDC) will continue to hugely benefit the local grassroots game and play an important part in progressing elite players, according to the Essex County FA's Emma Burden, who has been impressed with the progress the Under-15s, 13s and 11s age groups have made since the start of the season.
The PDC is based at Shenfield High School's 3G pitch and the 25-week training programme, which runs through until May, works closely with clubs and schools. The overall aim is to bridge the gap between grassroots and Centres of Excellence (COE) as players still represent, and train with, their own clubs as well as receiving the additional support of PDC coaches.
Trials took place in September, and Essex County FA Football Development Officer, Emma Burden, is thrilled with the improvement in the attendees so far. She claimed: "Girls get the opportunity to play with talented players from all over the county. The standard has been very high and competitive, proving a real challenge for the coaches involved.
"The PDC is primarily a technical programme which looks to complement the girls within grassroots football. It's the first rung on the FA Elite Female Player Pathway. All the girls who have made the step up to centre of excellence football are a credit to their clubs and the PDC programme. To be selected as one of the best players for your age group in a county the size of Essex is fantastic, and it's a reflection of their hard work and attitude."
The PDC sits in-between grassroots and centre of excellence football, and the Essex County FA have run a Female COE since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, one of only 31 in the country. Nearly 80 players aged between seven and 17 are accommodated within that playing programme, which involves four hours of training a week and weekly fixtures against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Middlesex, and Brighton.
Scouts are also present at CofE training sessions with a view to progressing talented players along the pathway - and recent examples from Essex are Abbie Fisher and Georgia Eaton-Collins. They were both selected to attend an FA Elite Performance Camp at Surrey Sports Camp in November. Georgina Morton was also included on a standby list.
Emma reinforced the need for a link between all the elements, adding: "It's important we link our Centre of Excellence with our Player Development Centre as much as we can. Players will be recommended and COE staff visit the PDC to deliver in-service events to the players and coaches. In our first season we had twelve players make the step up to centre of excellence football and last season 15 players were successful in gaining a centre place!"
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