Ardeer Thistle launches new youth academy

WHEN Sean Kenney first walked through the door as manager of Ardeer Thistle, they had ‘no players’ – now they have ‘hundreds’.

They may not all be first-team players yet, but with the introduction of the club’s new youth academy, alongside their resurgent first team, the future looks bright at Stevenston.

Kenney spoke to academy secretary Stuart Roy to speak to Ardeer Thistle’s social media team about the club’s new structure following its launch, with big ambitions extending far beyond the pitch of football.

“All these local teams need a good youth structure, we know we can’t go out and spend a fortune on players like other teams can, so we need to develop players,” Kenney explained. .

“We also live in a community and we need things for the kids as well. A big thing for me is the area we live in, the club is based in, there’s not a lot to do.

“If we can set up good structured activities for the children, we hope we can help the community.

“We’ll be looking to get more involved in the community with the kids who have just been training, we’ll be looking to play an important role in the community, you’re also looking to give back.”

It’s a strong mindset shared by Stuart Roy, whose Cunningham Youth sides will now fall under the Ardeer Thistle banner.

He and Sean have had a strong relationship for over 20 years and he says he’s delighted with how everything has fallen into place.

Stuart commented: “We just want to have fun and really enjoy it. Sean has participated in quite a few games and the kids love it.

“My main things are for the kids to have fun, enjoy the game that we all love. If they progress to the first team, that’s great.

“It’s a long term vision, we’ll be here for the future now, hopefully that continues until I retire, Sean is retiring.

“It’s the start of something big.”

While Sean agreed: “It’s a huge thing for the club, we just want to see a lot of kids, enjoy their football and wear the Ardeer shirt.”