HOLKER Street welcomed some of the area's youngest footballing talents for a special week of coaching.

More than 50 youngsters, aged between five and 11, stepped out of the Crossbar and onto their own 'little Wembley' with Barrow AFC Community Sports.

The children spent a week taking part in drills, games and matches on the home of Barrow AFC ahead of the start of the National League season.

AFC Community Sports were able to take advantage of the first week of the school holidays coinciding with a scheduled gap in home pre-season games for the Bluebirds – although the match against Lancaster City did have to be moved from Giant Axe late in the day.

The dozens of keen footballers worked with coaches from the club on their skills, having fun playing on the same pitch as some of their heroes.

AFC Community Sports manager Craig Rutherford was pleased to see the children out on the Holker Street turf and having fun.

He said: “It's been fantastic, and I want to say a massive thanks to Andrew (Casson, AFC's managing director) and the ground-staff for letting us use it.

“I've always said that the children who come absolutely love playing on there, because it is like a little Wembley to them.

“It's a little bit more special having it on there. That's no disrespect to Furness College (where AFC are running football and multi-sports camps during the rest of the summer holidays), but just having it at the home of the Bluebirds for a Barrow AFC programme just has a special feeling for the children.

“They love coming down the tunnel to go out onto the pitch, and performing on that pitch.”

Rutherford and his team of coaches, including Brad Hubbold, Kane Fitch, Jamie Hodgson and Matty Taylor spent five days with the children at Holker Street.

The format of the days saw them working on certain skills in the morning and carrying those skills forward into games in the afternoon.

Shooting practice on one morning saw the younger players trying to beat the coaches from close-range by hitting a static ball, having to pick out a place in the goal beyond the reach of the keeper.

The older children were given a more difficult challenge, with two balls rolled out to them, which they had to strike on target one at a time in a Wembley-style tournament that saw those who missed with both eliminated – and those children behind the goals who caught efforts which flew over the bar reinstated.

The coaches had some more unusual tasks to deal with as well, such as disentangling one player who had somehow tied his shoelace to his water bottle.

Rutherford was pleased with the flow of the coaching, which operated in a similar way as it would on the regular venue of the 3G pitch at Furness College, and he said: “We try to keep the weeks as consistent as we can.

“With each holiday programme, we theme each day, so they do certain skill in the morning and in the afternoon they try to put those skills into game situations so they cane practice what we've been preaching.

“There is a little bit more space on Holker Street, but other than that there is not much difference to what we can deliver.”