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Saturday 31st July v. Institute (away) - Friendly - k.o: TBC

Crewe United friendly off

Kofi Balmer joins Larne; Hume and Wylie loans end
Uploaded Saturday, 12th Jun, 2021 at 15:41

BALLYMENA United would like to say thank you to Kofi Balmer who joins Larne, and to Trai Hume and Ben Wylie who return to their parent clubs following the end of their loan deals. All three players represented the Northern Ireland Under 21's during their time here.
Kofi joined the club in August 2016 as a youth team player, but quickly rose through the ranks into the senior squad under David Jeffrey. Having broke through the 100 appearance mark this season, he contributed with ten goals including scoring on his debut against Coleraine.
Trai and Ben both joined on loan this season from Linfield and Celtic respectively. Having earlier come through the Youth Academy, both returned to their roots for the season and both contributed with Trai making 37 starts and joint third in the season's scoring charts with 6 goals. Ben made 17 appearances during the season.
Manager David Jeffrey paid tribute to all three young players, "Kofi memorably made his debut at 16, who will ever forget that? Away to Coleraine, he was to blame for the first goal which we bantered about many a time because he went on to score the goal in the same game to secure us the advantage in the play offs that ultimately got us our place in Europe. A young man who we have watched with great pride develop in his time here, he was always willing to learn, was dedicated and as a result we've also seen him become captain of the Northern Ireland U21's and develop as an international. Larne have been able to offer him something which Ballymena can't, that is full time football. Whilst we would have loved to have him stay we have to recognise that he's fulfilling his dream and we can only be proud of the role we've played in his development. Kofi leaves with all our best wishes for the future.
In terms of Trai and Ben, two boys who grew up together and were very close. Trai had an amazing season playing in multiple positions across the park, he is someone who is a totally dedicated and committed talent. He's tough tackling, doesn't take getting beat well and demands the very best of himself at all times. The season ended in him getting the young player of the year at the club and we're so pleased and proud that he made the NI Under 21 squad as a result.
For Ben he started the season well but then there was a period where the team playing very well coincided with him maybe just not doing so well and he had to deal with the frustration of that. However, his attitude was first class and he remained committed, and I would like to think that this education of coming out of academy football and playing senior football will have benefited him.
In Trai and Ben we have two phenomenal players and I trust that they will go back to their clubs as better footballers and better men and we will watch with interest how their careers progress with pride. Thank you to both for what they gave Ballymena United this year."
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