STEETON AFC are looking towards youth as they look to bolster their ranks across their junior and reserve sections.

The North West Counties side run a reserve, U18s and U15s team. All these sides play at the club's Summerhill Lane ground, which boasts one of the best playing surfaces in the area.

The reserves are playing at Step Seven of the football pyramid, in the Yorkshire Amateur Supreme Division, while the U18 and U15 sides are members of the Craven, Aire & Wharfe Junior League.

First-team manager Roy Mason explained the importance of the club attracting youth, saying: "Since we have become a semi-professional club, I am proud to say that we have had 18 players start with us at 16 and under and then go onto represent the club’s first team.

"Indeed, there are examples of where players have started their careers at Steeton and now play at a higher level with other clubs.

"We are actively looking to strengthen both our junior sides and look for the best young talent in the area that want to play senior football.

"This season, our reserve team has given debuts to a few 16 or 17-year-olds, with the likes of George Beaumont and Harrison Blackwell progressing to the firsts.

"Our philosophy for our reserve team is to be a development side that actively looks to promote and progress youth.

"The majority of this year’s squad have been under 20 years of age and the emphasis is on their development. Success is measured in terms of how many of these players we can progress to a higher level."

But Mason is worried about the future, saying: "We live in an age where young footballers have so many options these days.

"We need to address some of the problems as to why so many players don’t make the transition from junior football to senior football and we need to ensure that they all know that there is that pathway.

"I speak to a lot of people who have players at 15 or 16, and they really haven’t even given senior football a thought or have any idea as to how they start to play senior football."

Mason suggested it may be a case of too much, too young, saying: "Children are starting to play the game at four or five years old and by the time they get to 16, they have ‘footballed out”.

"There is also the issue with academies. Professional clubs don’t want to run the risk of losing out on any local talent, so they cast the net far and wide, meaning players sign up to clubs at six or seven.

"This really is far too young for them and they should be allowed to enjoy their childhood without the pressure that being involved in a professional club, as well as the peer pressure from parents who think their son is going to be the next Wayne Rooney.

"The reality is that very few of these lads will ever make it and most clubs only have an interest in two or three players from an age group.

"However, they need another 10 lads to make the team up so while these lads are involved, the reality is that they are just making the numbers up.

"In my experience, a lot of players lose interest in playing football once they have been released at 16 as their dreams are shattered.

"They believe that playing at amateur level is beneath them, so they are finished with the game."

Ending on a positive note, Mason said: "There is a game outside of the professional one and young players can still get plenty of enjoyment out of playing football for the fun of it rather than being a full-time paid career.

"Non-league football is a better standard than a lot of people realise and the professionalism at these clubs is getting better all the time.

"We have had three players this season on loan from Burnley and two players released by Bradford City at the end of last season and all of them have been surprised by the quality of the league that we are in.

"There is a lot of talented youngsters in the area and I know that Steeton is the right club for them to progress and enjoy their football.

"At a time where clubs are going to the wall, we are progressing, with both our senior teams playing at the highest standard in the club's history.

"With the U18 and U15 squads, we have the most junior sides we have ever had as well."

Any players wanting to get in touch and find out more about this opportunity need to email Mason at, stating which team they are interested in and writing about their previous experience.

This will then be forwarded to the relevant team managers.