Whalley coach helps Stanley make history

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Whalley football coach Duncan Fearnhead has helped Accrington Stanley create history.

Duncan, Academy Foundation Phase Lead Coach for the Under 5-11s at Stanley, was part of the party of 38 players and six staff who became the first group from the club to travel to Europe, as they spent three days training at the Camps des Loges - the training ground of Paris St Germain.

Here they were coached by PSG academy staff before going on to play Palaiseau, a feeder club for PSG, where players such as Thierry Henry and Jonathan Zebina played as juniors.

The Accrington teams, from under 11s to 13s, recorded two wins and a draw.

Duncan said: “Having worked at PSG in 2011, I knew what a great experience it would be for the boys to train at the outstanding facilities at Camps des Loges, so when the opportunity came up, it wasn’t one to be missed.

“We left Paris with an unbeaten start to our European adventures which also included our first international hat trick, and the experience the boys gained was invaluable.

Stanley have to think outside the box with their youth development, as he explained: “Because we need to produce from the academy it’s important we offer something different to the numerous clubs we are surrounded by in the North West.

“We are the lowest ranked professional club in the North West but there’s no way we are the lowest academy.

“We are going to clubs with 10 times our budget and competing.

“Some of the big clubs do international trips but I’m unaware of any others taking their players abroad, and certainly not to train with a top club like PSG.

“It’s things like this that we are offering to players that will set us apart and help our recruitment of better players.”

He added: “Putting Accrington Stanley alongside Paris St Germain was massive for not only for the academy, but for the club, as without us producing players for the first team or selling players on to raise finances, like we did with Connor Mahoney to Blackburn, it will be difficult for the club to survive.

“The PSG staff were surprised by how many good players we had and have already invited us back out there.”