Hogges link up with non-league outfit
Bermuda Hogges have forged an official partnership with ambitious non-league side Ilkeston United.
The mutually beneficial agreement could see as many as five young Bermuda players join Ilkeston’s fully-fledged Academy each season.
Over the last 12 months Hogges owner Paul Scope has been in regular contact with officials at Ilkeston, who play in the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier — three tiers below the Football League.
The club’s commercial director Nigel Harrop is a former Bermuda resident, while their manager Kevin Wilson was a striker partner of ex-Hogges coach Kyle Lightbourne’s during their Walsall playing days.
As a club with ambitions to become a full-time outfit, Scope believes Ilkeston will be a good fit for young Bermuda players with aspirations to turn professional.
"Both Kyle and I think Ilkeston are a great club for Bermudian players to look at. It is the right level for most of our top players to establish themselves before looking at higher clubs,” he said.
“The Evo-Stik is the old Northern Premier League and only three steps below the English Division Two, where Nahki Wells plays for Bradford City.
"Ilkeston are ideally situated between Football League Championship Clubs, Nottingham Forest and Derby County with League one Notts County and League Two Burton Albion and Chesterfield not far away. Good performances for Ilkeston will not go unnoticed.”
Several Bermudian players are currently training at the Derbyshire-based outfit, who are currently 12th in the league table.
Meanwhile Lightbourne has returned to his former club Walsall to assist the coaching staff for the remainder of the League One season
"Kyle and I are delighted with this development with Ilkeston which adds to our established relationships with Barnet and Walsall,” added Scope.
“This will expand the opportunities for Bermudian players overseas which is a big part of the Bermuda Hogges plan.
"Another Hogges player, Lejuan Simmons, has been training at Ilkeston for a few months and has turned out for the reserve and academy teams.
“There will actually be three Bermudian players at Ilkeston this week with Donte Leverock invited up for trials from his London base. Donte also played for the Hogges and we are working hard to give Hogges players the opportunity to play professionally overseas as past Hogges players, Nahki Wells and Freddy Hall, have done.
“Kyle is going over to assist the coaches at Walsall for the remainder of the season and will be sure to visit Ilkeston to meet up with Kevin Wilson and his staff.”
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