PADDY McCOURT: This is only the beginning as Derry City unveil Under-13 squad
Derry City Under-13 boss Paddy McCourt feels he has assembled a squad capable of competing in the new National League, which gets underway in March 2019.
McCourt, who is also set to start his new role as Head of the Youth Academy at the Brandywell, has been working hard with his assistant Mo Mahon to recruit players for the new season.
The 19-man squad was unveiled at the Everglades Hotel on Tuesday night, and Mccourt said preparations are going well.
"It got off to a bit of a sticky start as it was a bit rushed and trying to get everything into shape, but luckily we've pulled a good squad together," he said.
"We've met up tonight to get the boys all kitted out in their new tracksuits and have a chat with the parents about what we can expect for the season ahead.
"We've a squad of 19 players, and it's a strong squad in my opinion, but until you see the rest of the squads you won't know exactly where you are.
"I have every confidence in this squad that they will definitely be able to compete at a good level.
"It's a work in progress, this is only the beginning.
"But for the first time ever the club now has a pathway from Under-12's through to the Under-19s and on to the first team, including the Ulster Senior League team, which acts as the Reserves."
McCourt is set to begin his new role at Derry City once the League of Ireland season officially comes to a close.
And he revealed he is hoping to build close relationships with the local clubs.
"I haven't had time to go round and meet the clubs yet, but it is something I plan to do," he said.
"I don't officially start the job until the end of the month, so it has been difficult.
"We had to accelerate and get the Under-13s moving because we didn't have time to wait.
"But I do want to meet the clubs, whether it's individually or collectively and try and build the relationships.
"All we want to do is offer a platform for young players.
"We're actually signing players a year young, so for the first time ever you will have 11-year-olds wearing Derry City colours, which I think is brilliant.
"At the end of the days it's the players and their parents who decide if that's a platform they want to take."