Hartlepool United Under 16s will be going for glory in the National Final of the Schoolboy Games Programme tomorrow.
The young Pools’ side will take on Oxford United in the match at Derby County’s Training Ground, kick off 2pm.
Team coach Tony Sweeney is delighted for the club’s academy players, some of whom have been been nurtured by Pools for more than five years.
Tony said: “I’m pleased for the players and for the academy as a whole as this achievement is a consequence of many years of hard work, effort and planning in striving to improve the academy year on year.”
“Some of the lads have been in the system since they were nine or ten years old and have worked under numerous coaches over the years who have all helped along the way.
“Ultimately, the success of our academy won’t be judged on excelling in an Under 16 competition but on how many players we can help develop into not only first team regulars but players that are sought after by teams higher up in the football pyramid.
“But occasions and experiences like this can only benefit that process and aid player development.
“I’ve been lucky enough to train at Derby County’s training ground on several occasions when travelling as a player to southern games, and I’ve got to say it’s a top-class facility, so that environment will inspire the lads not only to try and win the competition but to have a career as a professional where this is your daily place of work,” Sweeney told hartlepoolunited.co.uk.
Pools saw off North West table-toppers Shrewsbury Town in the Northern Area semi-final two weeks ago.
They topped the North East group, which featured the likes of Burton Albion, Rotherham United, Scunthorpe United and Notts County,
And the reward for their run of good form is the National Final against winners of the South West group, Oxford United, who saw off competition from Wimbledon in the Southern Final.