THE Aire Wharfe Elite Football Centre (AW), Ilkley Town's performance pathway, have partnered with Premier League Club Leeds United to assist in elite player development in the local area.

The AW have operated out of Ben Rhydding for the past two years and provide extra coaching and matches for players aged six-16 who wish to take an elite route in their football journey.

This is a fantastic opportunity for local players to showcase their talents as Leeds United academy scouts and coaches will regularly attend training sessions and fixtures.

It will also present chances for players to play at Thorp Arch, the club’s training ground.

AW squads train once per week on either Tuesday or Friday evenings, depending on age group, and are coached by professional coaches who are either UEFA B or FA Level 2 qualified.

The centre aims to provide elite opportunities by arranging games against other academies and representative teams.

The main target of the centre is to give players extra coaching and fixtures, while not interfering with Sunday club commitments.

This October, the AW will also start their first year of delivering a football scholarship in partnership with St. Mary’s school, Menston.

The program offers talented players aged 16-19 the chance to train and play in a full time football program whilst studying for A-Level or BTEC qualifications in a range of subjects. United have confirmed they will assist in the promotion and recruitment of the program.

The Leeds partnership is another step in the right direction for the AW as they aim to establish themselves as a major player when it comes to developing talented young players.

AW manager Sam Dexter said: “I am delighted we have partnered with Leeds United. It is a fantastic opportunity for talented young players in our area.

"Leeds United are a Category One Academy and have an unprecedented history of producing excellent players such as James Milner, Danny Rose, Fabian Delph and in more recent years Kalvin Phillips and Jack Clarke.

"I think the partnership speaks volumes for the hard work we have been doing over the past couple of years to create a strong reputation for player development and we are delighted that an academy such as Leeds have chosen to work with us”.

The AW currently have 150 players in their system and will look to use this new partnership to attract more youngsters.

Meanwhile, on the pitch, Ilkley continued their unbeaten start to the season. Tom Smith's goal was enough to see them over the line against Sherburn White Rose to make it three wins on the bounce.