AFC Dunstable U18s/U21s manager Paul Blackman has spoken of the club’s pride after duo Kyle Ajayi and Dan Gould were selected to play for the England Schools U18s.
Gould, who is a goalkeeper, with Ajayi an attacking midfielder, both attended Lealands High School and are now at the SAFA Football Academy in Oaklands College, St Albans.
They started playing for AFC Dunstable in the Eastern Junior Alliance League (EJA), which Blackman feels is crucial to their development.
He said: “Statistics show that those clubs who use the EJA league in their own development plan progress better and many players eventually progress into first team squads and quite often a lot higher.
“Generally the EJA is seen as the higher standard of youth football, as only clubs of step five and above qualify to compete in this league.
“It has higher standards of coaching, behaviour and conduct, by teaching young players what to expect, and what will be expected of them in their future football careers.”
Both players progressed to the Midweek Floodlit U18 team, that have finished first and second (twice) in the last three seasons.
Ajayi has gone on to sign first team forms with the Creasey Park club as Blackman added: “Kyle has been a permanent fixture in our impressive U21 side who currently sit top of the Spartan South Midlands U25 Development Division.
“The team play in an U25 League but as a club we have stuck to our principles of promoting or bringing youth players through following our football pathway by using only 16-to-19-year-olds in our team.
“All at the club would like to wish Dan and Kyle the warmest congratulations for being selected for the English Schools U18 squad.”
Ajayi and Gould were among 32 England Schoolboy hopefuls who took part in the final trial for the squad at Lilleshall National Sport Centre as they played against each other and teams from the RAF and Royal Navy.
The Schools’ first match is against Republic of Ireland at Kenilworth Road in March.