Former Anfield legend John Barnes says the Liverpool Academy will provide Australian footballers an opportunity to develop and visit the youth set up in England.
Barnes, who played more than 400 games for Liverpool, helped launch their new Academy Tuesday before hosting a coaching clinic with local players from Football Far North Coast.
Barnes said Aussie youngsters had the chance to visit Liverpool and witness how the club produced the likes of Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerard and most recently, Raheem Sterling.
“I’m sure they’ll have in the future opportunities for the Australian kids to visit the Liverpool Academy,” he said.
“There is an opportunity here for kids to develop, to learn, to grow to and as a consequence of that they may get to be a professional footballer or even get a chance to visit Anfield and play there in the Academy for a week.”
The academy will combine the facilities, and resources of Southern Cross University with the methodology and philosophy of Liverpool Football Club.
Liverpool Academy coach James Gow was appointed as head coach in June and said the facilities in Lismore were a major influence in developing youth in Northern NSW.
“We’ve got a facility that is capable of fulfilling the role of a full time elite academy and also community players as well,” he said. “It’s a multimillion dollar facility with three fantastic pitches one of which is an artificial pitch.”
“At the moment we did a deal where we can take over the representatives of the Football Far North Coast so we run an elite program in the later part of this year. Then starting in 2017 we will be entering a side into one of the local leagues in Queensland.
“So what we are going to do is pretty unique. We are bringing together our technical expertise and our background in developing football players and linking with Southern Cross University and their expertise in sport science and we are bringing those two together to provide a real cool unique player development program.”
Barnes said the passion the regional area had for football was the main reason the Merseyside club decided to set up their first Academy in Australia in that region.
“There was an opportunity for Liverpool to be here in Lismore,” Barnes said “When the opportunity to partner with the Southern Cross University and the people involved here – why not?
“The most important thing is the willingness of people to produce a product and the people here are good people and while it isn’t the biggest city or the biggest town or the most populace they have an appetite for it and that is the most important thing.”
“They are going to reach far and wide all across the country and that is obviously the ambition and first of all they are going to target this particular and target the youngsters in this particular area and give them an opportunity to develop.”