Brent Schools football chairman calls for talks with QPR owner Tony Fernandes to discuss youth development
PUBLISHED: 13:16 13 May 2015 | UPDATED: 15:29 13 May 2015
Brent Schools FA chairman Chris Ampofo believes QPR have a great opportunity to take an innovative approach with their youth development policy as they plan for the future after Sunday’s relegation from the Premier League.
Ampofo was born and raised in the borough and came through the ranks at West Ham United in the 1970 alongside Paul Allen, Paul Ince and Tony Cottee. He partnered the late Alan McDonald at the heart of the Middlesex defence before the Northern Irishman went on to become a legend at Rangers.
Ampofo, 51, has been part of the borough’s coaching set-up for nearly 10 years and recently met up with his former youth team coach at West Ham, Tony Carr, to discuss how the club can work with Brent in the future.
He hopes a similar discussion can take place with QPR.
He said: “The days of cherry picking the best youngsters and then taking them to a professional club, only for the majority of them not to make it, really needs to change.
“One problem there’s been in the past with QPR is telling players from Brent that they can no longer represent the borough if they join the academy. We made them aware that other clubs such as Arsenal, Spurs and Reading let kids on their books still play for Brent because they know it is beneficial to their development.
“I’m hopeful things will change. Both Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey have been in touch. I’m confident with Les now director of football, he can turn things around.
“Les is from the area and knows his football. He’s aware the club is situated in a great catchment area for talent.
“You look at two of the most exciting talents in the Premier League in Raheem Sterling from Neasden and Yannick Bolasie from Harlesden. You go back a few years and you’ve got quality players like Stuart Pearce, Gary Waddock, Cyrille Regis and Luther Blissett who all grew up in Brent.
“We’ve got a great history of producing players and yet I look at QPR and the last player I can remember really making the breakthrough was Richard Langley – that was 16 years ago.
“Raheem was a star when he joined QPR and he left Rangers for Liverpool when he was 15.”
Ampofo believes the way forward is to sit around a table with the hierachy at Loftus Road and work out a plan that can help the club.
He said: “What I’d say to Tony Fernandes is: why don’t you spend £100,000 a year on youth development in the local area? Over 10 years that is £1million.
“You bring through one player to the first team and sell him for a profit and you’ve got your money back and then some.
“Currently Ealing and Hounslow don’t play district football, which is a real shame. I’m sure if we could sit down and discuss things we could work out a way forward.
“I’d like to see a list of all occupations at the club and then why not set up apprenticeships or work experience placements for local kids who might want to work in sport?
“I know the community team do some great work but in terms of getting players from grassroots to the first team QPR have struggled to do that for the last decade.
“There’s a lot of competition now. Norwich City have a development centre in Stonebridge and Southampton the same in Ladbroke Grove.
“But QPR is our local club, we might not all support them but we all hold them dearly.
“QPR should be the first port of call for players from Brent but at the moment others clubs are leading the way.”
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