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Head of Academy Appointed
Uploaded Thursday, 28th Jul, 2016 at 16:00

BALLYMENA United Football Club and Youth Academy are delighted to welcome Damian Curran to the Ballymena Showgrounds in a joint venture that will see him take up the new role of Head of Academy.
Curran, who previously played for Newry Town and Linfield after coming back home from Everton, also played junior international football for Northern Ireland. Most recently Curran has set up and run a youth football academy in Antrim.
The appointment comes after collaboration between the senior club and youth academy, as manager David Jeffrey explains, "back when myself, Bryan and Paul came together at the club we set one simple vision, that we want to create a successful, trophy winning team with as many local young men from the Ballymena area as we can bring through.
With that in mind we met with John Anderson (BUYA chairman) and David Douglas (secretary) and looked at how we could proactively support the academy to bring us closer together and create the best pathways for young players to progress. We have pledged our support to the coaches and young players at Youth Academy functions, but more than that we came to an agreement that the football club would invest in the academy through funding a post that will look at support for coaches in terms of education, player identification and retention.
We put our heads together and came up with Damian as our preferred candidate, and thankfully he accepted. Damian brings the attributes that we need in that position, successful playing career, going across the water as a young player, a keen interest in youth development and most importantly the integrity and personality for the job.
It is important to state that this is not about me bringing in someone to take over and control the Youth Academy. Rather it is a joint enterprise whereby Damian will be fully responsible and accountable for development, but I feel it is important as I focus on first team matters that my direct link to the academy is someone who I trust implicitly. We believe in the development of footballers in a similar way and I am excited as we reach out to the best footballers in the borough by offering a new complete set up in a way that has not been done before here.
If we want to develop players for the senior side or, better still, those with exceptional talent that will make it across the water and maybe even push for international caps, then we need to have a strong set up here. When other clubs inevitably try to come and cherry pick our best young players then, rather than parents' heads being turned, we need to be able to evidence that their child's future is better served at Ballymena United - that will be a big part of Damian's remit."
(l-r) David Jeffrey, John Anderson, Damian Curran, John Taggart & David Douglas
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Ballymena United Youth Academy chairman John Anderson expressed his desire for the new structure, "at the Youth Academy we have a very hard working committee and experienced and dedicated coaches. However, when we met with David and Bryan we expressed a need for direction and technical support, in conjunction with current head coach Mo McDowell, to develop further. We are in a current situation where parents may feel that by taking children to what they see as a 'bigger club' they are more likely to get noticed by Club NI (Irish FA youth development programme). However this is a false view, with players as likely to be noticed at Ballymena United as anywhere else. In David Jeffrey we have a manager who wants to drive the senior team to the highest levels and we are pleased that he wants to take an active role in supporting youth football in the town. With Damian on board we have the opportunity to improve our coaching at the Youth Academy and in wishing him the best in the role we also ensure that he gets every support from everyone here".
New Head of Academy Damian Curran paid credit to the Youth Academy and Senior club for presenting him with the opportunity, "I want to thank everyone for the warm welcome I have received. Obviously some will probably remember me for playing under David at Linfield, however, having experience of going across the water and the highs and lows that it brings, I want to bring that knowledge to the Youth Academy and the youngsters that we will look to develop. We want to get as many local boys striving to make it the whole way up and into the senior team and my role is to help the coaches develop the pathways that allow them to do that. I am looking forward to working with all teams and coaches on areas of player development with the aim of improving all teams."
In conclusion David Jeffrey reiterated the vision for the club, "if you put in place the structures, organisation, support and the right people in the right positions, and in that respect Damian has completed my staffing jigsaw, then we will have a united team to support kids from U6 upwards and watch them develop the whole way through to the senior team - we go forward together."