Local trio to attend pre-season training at Ipswich Town

Jackson Kirkconnell, Corey Smith and Manny Duran with coach Phil Beale.

Three young footballers will get the chance to train at the Ipswich Town FC youth academy this summer, after outshining their peers at camp hosted by Excel Sports Management last week.

Corey Smith, 14, Jackson Kirkconnell, 13, and Immanuel Duran, 11, were handpicked by Phil Beale, the Ipswich Town recruitment coordinator and Elite Under-13 Coach, who led training at the camp.

Beale said the original plan was to select two players but he was overwhelmed by the talent he saw and arranged for an extra place to be granted to a Cayman Islands player. He said the trio showed great desire and determination. “That was really important. They also showed really good technical ability, good characters, willing to learn, willing to listen, good tactical understanding.”

Jackson Kirkconnell participates in drills.

He said Ipswich Town FC looks at four “corners” for their players – technical, psychological, tactical and social.

“We’re trying to make sure that players have something within all of those corners within a framework that we look for as a club. These boys have ticked all the boxes. They have great potential. It’s a good chance for them to go and experience academy football in England and judge where they are within that,” Beale told CaymanSportsBuzz.com at the end of the camp.

Understandably, all three players said they were excited at being selected from a group of more than 50 children.

“The camp was fun and it was a good experience to play at a high tempo and learn about different skills,” said Duran. “I’m pretty excited when I get to Ipswich, I hope that I could get signed with the club [when I get older].”

“I came here trying to get to Ipswich and I fulfilled my goal,” said Smith. He has now raised the bar as he prepares for the trip to England in the summer. His new plan? “For the coaches to see the talent and potential I have within me.”

Manny Duran impressed coaches with his skill.

Kirkconnell visited the club in the east of England last year and was amazed that his named was called this time around. “It definitely boosts my confidence [knowing] that the coaches think I’m good enough. I didn’t expect it but it’s good,” he told CaymanSportsBuzz.com.

They all said they benefited from learning more about the up-tempo style of play that English clubs play. Beale said they could still expect some adjustment when being in the mix with youngsters at Ipswich when it comes to the style of play.

Ipswich Town has been sending representatives to Cayman since 2012 based on relationships forged with Virgil Seymour and Excel Sports Management, as well as Academy Sports Club.

“We come over and we put on a camp every year to look at all the great kids that are coming though ESM and Academy Sports Club through these camps because there’s some great talent on the island,” Beale said. He also praised the professionalism at the camp.

Camp participants with coaches.

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