THE man spearheading a multi-million pound sports facility in Harrow plans to tap into the area's thriving youth football set-up in a bid to help youngsters realise their potential.
Former Barnet FC manager Paul Fairclough is overseeing the multi-purpose sports centre at Prince Edward Playing Fields (PEPF) with the first phase of the £4million development set to be completed by the end of the month.
The 44-acre site at Canons Park will house state of the art training facilities for League Two side Barnet as well as providing allweather pitches and other sports facilities for local clubs.
And while the ambitious project will also give scope to a wide range of sports it is football which Fairclough is particularly keen to push.
He is the chief executive of Barnet Sports Development, which is running the site, and not only is he keen for as many local clubs to use the new centre, he wants to unearth the next batch of Wayne Rooneys.
An FA licensed Centre of Excellence will be based at the site, including teams at all levels, including a scholarship group.
Barnet have already had unprecedented demand for trials, with more than 400 applicants.
"Harrow has one of the biggest youth leagues in the country and I am sure there are plenty of diamonds in the area that need to be cultivated in the right manner," said Fairclough.
"In my experience a lot of smaller clubs feel threatened by Centres of Excellence, and it will be my biggest challenge of this project to try and change that.
"I want the coaches of these clubs to recognise that if they have kids with potential then they have a duty to create a pathway for them, including a Centre of Excellence.
"If a bird is ready to fly the nest then it should be allowed to do so."
And Fairclough is confident aiding and abetting grass-roots football could benefit the national team's long term fortunes.
"If we want our country to win World Cups the answer to that lies in these talented players at these clubs," he added.
The centre plans to open its doors to the completed first phase on June 1 with an open day scheduled to follow.
See next week's Harrow Observer to read how Fairclough insists the new centre will benefit both Wealdstone FC and Harrow Borough.