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Young footballers’ hopes take off at the Canaries

Just Regional
Apr 21, 2023 3 mins read

A trio of young footballers from Aylsham have spread their wings to join the Canaries.
Ben Bates, Dexter Jackson and Alfie McCann, who all cut their teeth playing in Aylsham’s youth teams, have been talent-spotted by Norwich City’s academy, which nurtures young local football talent.
The hat-trick of successes has thrilled the town club which is proud of passing on promising young players to the county’s flagship football hub.
Aylsham Football Club youth chairman Gus Bates said: “It is great that Aylsham youngsters get picked for the academy, where they get professional coaching and match experience at the training grounds of top clubs like Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Ben Bates


“It is hard to get into the academy and even harder to stay there but we are pleased our young players are getting the chance to showcase their talent and play at the highest possible level,” said Gus who is Ben’s dad.
“Ben, now 12, has been at the academy since he was five. He has played in France, Belgium and Poland and could be off to Finland next. But he and the others could not have got this far with the initial support from Aylsham FC.”

Dexter Jackson


Dexter joined Aylsham at six and after a recent successful trial he joined Norwich City’s under-10s. Alfie began his football journey at Aylsham aged five and was spotted by Norwich scouts in a summer tournament. He started training with the pre academy squad in August 2019 and is now hoping to progress to the under-11s.

Alfie McCann


Gus added: “Aylsham Football Club wants to provide football for every standard for children – and adults. Some just like playing for fun, while others are driven to see how far they can get. So the club is pleased when players progress to the academy or higher level clubs. We have had players at the academy in the past but having three there is great.”
Recent success stories of former young Aylsham players include goalkeeper Sam Blair who signed for Norwich and Fletcher Dyson who went to the United States on a sports scholarship.
Aylsham’s youth section ranges from under-6 Mini Kickers, to under-18s at which stage they move into the adult teams.
Gus stressed that the vital work of the youth sessions and teams could not be done without the unstinting help of an army of volunteers. And as the youth section grows, along with the rest of the club at its Youngs Park base, so does the need for more coaches, managers and helpers, who they are always keen to recruit.
Anyone interested in youth football at Aylsham – either as a player or volunteer – can find out more on the club’s website www.aylshamfc.co.uk or call Gus Bates on 07775 856879

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