THE next Harry Kane or Marcus Rashford could be found in Blackbird Leys if a new development programme for promising young footballers proves to be a success.

Trials are being held next week for children aged seven to 11 to join WR Soccer School's future talent programme.

The elite course will mimic the structure of a professional club's academy programme and hopes to launch the careers of star footballers of the future.

Founder of the WR Soccer School, Waheed Ramzan, started coaching football as a way of getting children to be more active.

He has since found that some of the players have developed to a higher standard where the basic lessons are no longer challenging.

The 24-year-old coach, who was born and bred in Headington, said: "We started out with the aim of getting children in to playing sports.

"I think we all know that there is a growing problem across the country with childhood obesity.

"There's also a feeling among parents that it's a bit more dangerous to send their kids to the park to have a kick about.

"So we created a safe space where children could go and play some games and meet people which is very important for their development.

"This means that so many of our kids have never played any sort of sport before.

"We've now got to a stage where some of the players have developed and we do not have anything to offer them."

Blackbird Leys has a footballing pedigree, with professional footballers including Jordan Obita at Reading and Rotherham United player Dexter Blackstock growing up on the estate before going on to a career in the game.

Mr Ramzan hopes to be able to create a partnership with a professional club, offering them first refusal on any players from the programme who are good enough.

The coach, who previously played for the Oxford City FC academy, continued: "Our professional coaches are creating a programme to help the children develop an awareness of the game to a high standard."

"We want to give as many children as possible the opportunity to make it at a club and make the most of that opportunity if they are given it."

The first trials take place at North Oxfordshire Academy in Drayton Road, Banbury, this Monday and next Monday, September 25, from 5pm.

Oxford trials will run at the Leys Leisure Centre in Pegasus Road this Tuesday and Tuesday, September 26 from 5.30pm.

Children can join the programme at any time during the season, which runs for 40 weeks from October to July during term time.

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