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Ilkeston look to expand partnership with Hogges

Bermuda Hogges’ partnership with Ilkeston FC will be expanded to help more young footballers get opportunities in the UK.

The official agreement has already seen Hogges skipper Antwan Russell sign for the non-league outfit until the end of the season, scoring his first goal for the Robins in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with league leaders North Ferriby United.

Following a meeting between Ilkeston FC Chairman Dave Mantle and Hogges co-owner Paul Scope, plans are now being made to expand that relationship.

“We’re really excited about this development and where it could lead in the future. Potentially we can see tremendous benefits for both parties — and the goal that Antwan scored on Saturday is just the start,” said Mantle.

“A key thing to realise is that they are football crazy in Bermuda. When word got out that we were talking about the possibility of forming a partnership, it was seen as a really big story on the island.

“Paul Scope and his colleagues are extremely keen to make this work. He has already been over to firm up our arrangement and Kyle Lightbourne, who is also a co-owner of Hogges and is currently coaching at Walsall, was at our game against Buxton last week.”

The partnership between the two clubs is based around two main details; to offer the opportunity for senior players to add to their experience — as with Russell — and also to provide some of their best young players with football scholarships in this country.

“As with Russell, the feeling is that spending time with Ilkeston FC can only help their senior players to develop and from our point of view, having him around has certainly raised interest levels among the fans,” added Mantle.

“But we are also exploring the possibility of developing an ‘overseas’ arm to our Academy and bringing up to ten young players across from Bermuda to become football scholars.

“In Bermuda, they don’t leave school until they are 17 so the course will be for an age group of 17 to 19 and — very much as we do now — they will further their education as well as work on their football.

“I must stress that it will be in addition to what we already do — not depriving young players in this country of opportunities — and the cultural benefits could be enormous. It will give the lads chance to sample life, as well as football, in a different country and there could well be opportunities for our youngsters to go to Bermuda and spend time working over there.

“We can only see benefits coming out of the partnership and I think it will be a great thing for Ilkeston FC in all sorts of ways.”

Bermuda youngsters Lejuan Simmons, Quadir Maynard and Donte Leverock are currently training with Derbyshire-based Ilkeston.

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Published April 09, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 09, 2013 at 9:04 pm)

Ilkeston look to expand partnership with Hogges

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