Following their huge success in 2018, where the Kent Exiles fought their way to a conference title and promotion to the top tier, the Exiles have announced their intention to launch a development squad, with the aim to recruit a roster and begin building towards playing non-league fixtures in 2019.
The Exiles shared:
The Kent Exiles are proud to announce, after a long period of discussion and evaluation, that 2019 will see the establishment of a development squad that will look to play competitive games against a selection of opponents during the 2019 season.
The Exiles are one of the oldest, and biggest, clubs in the UK. We have teams in all age groups from Cadet Flag to Women’s and Adult Kitted, and the past few years have seem a plethora of Divisional Titles, Conference Crowns, Final appearances and victories.
This development squad will be contained within the framework of the current adult team and will NOT be a separate entity. Players will continue to practice together under the guidance of our coaching staff and there will be no discernible difference to the day-to-day football operations of the club. We will however, be setting standards and expectations at a higher level than ever before.
Club Director of Coaching, Scott Rowe, explained the reasons behind the decision:
“This step has been taken for several reasons and has been subject to consultation with a group formed of key stakeholders within the whole organisation.
We are in the fortunate position to be a club with a large playing roster which has helped us complete a hugely successful 2018 season which culminated in a Southern Conference Division 1 crown and promotion to the Premiership. With the upcoming challenges we are looking to promote competition within the team whilst maintaining our strength in depth.
With such a large squad it is inevitable that some players do not see as much playing time as they might wish. Despite our healthy numbers we have seen a significant number of players depart over the past couple of seasons due to a lack of game reps. With the addition of development team games, players will have the chance to see meaningful playing time in a competitive environment without impacting on the squad’s endeavours in the Premiership. It will also enable the coaches to evaluate those players in a game environment.
We feel this is an ideal opportunity for rookies, players still learning the game, and those whose commitments may prevent them from practicing as regularly as they might like, to play games whilst also remaining part of a Premiership program. Another key part of our thinking is the progression, development, and integration of our Junior players into Senior football. For many years we have had great success with both our U-19 and U-17 teams and we feel that being able to contribute in these development games will only accelerate their acclimatisation into the senior game and increase their confidence. With many of our U-19 players also playing university football and then returning in the summer, we feel that this also affords them the opportunity to get to play for the club despite not being able to complete the bulk of pre-season training.
Whilst the creation of a development team is a logical building block to the eventual creation of a “B” team, there is no timescale for that and this process will be subject to ongoing assessment and relevant reviews.
As a club, we are very excited for the future and look forward to the 2019 season.”
The Exiles will hold their first open try-out on Sunday 25th November at The Beaverwood Club. 9.30am registration. 10am start until 12.30pm. The second session is planned for Sunday 9th December (same timings).