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"Good morning everybody........"
Feb 11, 2005
Was looking for something else and stumbled across this article on the youth set up in 2000. All sounds very similar to what we are hearing these days, with the 'Score' team sounding like the development deals we now have.....have things really changed that much?!

Soccer: Babes to give Southend strong future
From the archive, first published Wednesday 19th Jan 2000.

Southend United's youth policy is already paying dividends with four players making their first team debuts this season. But director of youth Peter Trevivian tells BERNIE FRIEND that this is only the beginning

Southend United's youth guru Peter Trevivian believes his ever-growing crop of Blues babes will lead the Shrimpers into a successful 21st century.

The 44-year-old has a healthy stable of budding soccer stars at Roots Hall desperate for their first team chance, but Trevivian promised they are just the tip of the iceberg.

"A handful of my kids have already made the senior team this term, but this is only the beginning," promised the Third Division club's director of youth.

"There are more waiting in the wings where they came from and I estimate that as many as five of my current under-19 side could make it in professional football."

Four players to progress through the Shrimpers' ranks have made their first-team debuts this term - defenders Garry Cross and Leon Johnson, midfielder Danny Kerrigan and striker Yemi Abiodun - who have all held their own.

But Trevivian, not one to rest on his laurels, is now hoping to uncover the next generation of Seasiders stars.

The former Ipswich Town coach, who has nurtured the talents of many young players including Newcastle United and England schemer Kieron Dyer, aims to reap a new soccer harvest from the playing fields of Southend and the surrounding districts.

"Our scouts are scouring the local football scene for the cream of young players from this area, which we want to harness for the benefit of Southend United's future," he added.

"The only way this club can progress is by producing its own stars and maintaining a healthy production line of talent good enough to play first-team football."

Some of Blues' home-grown players have gone on to grace the game's highest stage in recent years, with former apprentices Justin Edinburgh (Spurs) and Spencer Prior (Norwich City, Leicester City and Derby County) both plying their trades in the Premier League.

These players were at Roots Hall before Trevivian arrived, but the Shrimpers' youth supremo is determined to unearth more gems of the same standard thanks to the club's new triangle of opportunity.

Blues have a three-pronged vision for the future - which consists of their centre of excellence, score team and football scholarships.

"We want to attract the best kids from this area by offering them unique opportunities not available at other clubs," said Trevivian.

Southend's centre of excellence, which is run by former Shrimpers midfield favourite Steve Tilson, operates five nights a week for 38 weeks of the year.

"We have 120 youngsters between under-nine and under-16 level who take part in a full coaching and match programme every week," explained Trevivian, who is contracted to the Seasiders for another three years.

"Following extensive trials these youngsters are coming to us at a very early age so the 30 members of our qualified staff can help them to reach their potential and develop their skills."

At the age of 15, the teenagers who have met Blues' stringent criteria, via the centre of excellence, will be offered one of two career paths to a full-professional playing contract.

These youngsters hoping to go all the way will either find themselves handed an outright three-year scholarship - a replacement for the antiquated YTS apprenticeship scheme of old - or they will join the further education-linked Score scheme.

"Just before our boys hit 16 we have a lot of big decisions to make," Trevivian continued.

"Sadly we have to part company with some of the lads, but the rest will either be rewarded with a soccer scholarship or enrollment on the Score scheme."

A football scholarship is the direct route to a professional soccer contract, but the teenagers Blues are undecided about are given the opportunity to join the Score scheme, devised to prevent potential stars slipping through the net of discovery.

"So many players have been shown the door by professional clubs at an early age, but have come back to haunt them," said Trevivian.

"But the Score scheme is helping us to overcome this problem by giving players not chosen for a scholarship a chance to develop further over a two-year period.

"If during this time they make significant progress we will then take up their scholarship, which is a scheme that works.

"Three of our current trainees Craig Edwards, James Lunan and Danny Pitts were late developers and they have made the grade this way."

The other advantage of the Score scheme is its close relationship with Thundersley's Seevic college, which ensures all its participants receive an academic education to fall back on.

However, Trevivian revealed that footballers who do not make the grade as scholars are also well taken care of.

"After two years we have to decide whether or not our scholars have a realistic chance of becoming professionals," he added.

"The boys we wish to retain stay with us for a final year, but the lads we don't see as part of our plans move on.

"However, the Professional Footballers' Association will continue to pay 75 per cent of these youngsters' scholar wages to allow them to finish off their academic studies away from the football club."

Although, as Trevivian said earlier, the conveyor belt of talent needs to be kept primed, a policy which has been boosted by cash funding from the English Sports Council and the Premier League.

"We will receive £138,000 a season for the next four years from these two bodies, which doesn't totally cover the costs of our youth policy, but gives us a great chance of being successful," he said.

"This money will help us produce our own players and ensure Southend United Football Club's survival both on and off the pitch."

Garry Cross - made his first-team debut this season for the Shrimpers