The founders and directors of Unita, a local based facilities management company, have taken the reigns at Ossett Albion in a move that sees the Evo-Stik North club inherit a ready-made football academy with 150 players currently enrolled.
John Chidlaw, Managing Director of Unita and now Chairman of Albion, started the Unita football academy with wife Emma and business partner Lee Summerscales earlier this year with the intention of providing the most professional coaching in the region and ultimately creating a player pathway for children in the area to progress into professional football.
Hiring professional coaches, operating out of a fully functioning academy site based at Warrenside, in Huddersfield, the academy boast more than 150 youngsters ranging from 5 to 16-years-old plus a senior development team that plays in the county Senior League.
The academy is overseen by A Licence coach and Huddersfield Town’s former head of youth development Dave Haley, former Sunderland midfielder and recently head of coaching at Wigan, Andy Welsh and ex-Sheffield Wednesday Academy and USA under-18s Olympic Development coach, Phil Smith.
The academy will act as a feeder to Ossett Albion. Haley and Welsh will take over as first team manager and head coach respectively while Smith will provide support and oversee the running of the academy and its player development pathway.
Unita Academy Manager Smith said: “Lee, Emma and John are not in this for status or ego boosting, we are all here primarily to provide a route to success for our academy players.
“One that sees them graduate our programme and move onto other clubs further up the league or stay with us and progress into our first team where we will see the success of our own coaching provide Ossett Albion with young new talented players ready to perform at whatever level we ask them to.”
Chidlaw added: “We have spent the summer creating something quite special at Warrenside and the natural progression for us was to become a club and compete as high up the footballing ladder as possible.
“When we made an enquiry to our local non-league team Ossett Albion as to the possibility of partnering up and seeing if there was any common ground it became apparent very fast that more than a partnership could be possible.”
“Dominic [Riordan, director] and Simon [Turfrey, director] were very keen to learn of what we had in mind for Ossett Albion and how we would go about it. Their primary concern was ensuring we were serious, able and wanting to operate with the best interest of the club.
“Ossett are my local team, I’ve watched them play at Dimplewells for some time and now I can bring a new lease of life into the club with the support of the Unita Academy, its staff and more importantly its players.
“You are about to see something very special happen here.”