Larne Youth is a cross-community charity organisation formed in 1996 and our main activities are sport orientated especially with reference to football.
Many meetings at the start were held in committee member’s houses and it was felt that to progress and diversify Larne Youth would need a clubhouse. As the Club grew it was recognised that Larne Youth would need a more permanent base if we were to fulfil our potential In December 1998 this need was addressed when we purchased a sectional building 50’ x 30’ and in agreement with the owner of Curran Business Park in Larne we redeveloped a run down corner of the yard and had the building located onto this site and then secured the area. We later purchased two other sectional buildings 30’ x 10’, one of which is used as a store and the other is used as two changing rooms.
As a club we realise that we are part of a community and society and we also put time and effort back into these and run events for the community at large, work along with disadvantage areas and children as well as disabled children. In conjunction with the North Eastern Education and Library Board we run a youth club several nights a week and also at weekends where the children can play pool, table tennis, darts, computer games and have other activities arranged for them which includes trips to various locations which has included Stormont Buildings, Go-Karting, Ice Bowl, Ten-pin Bowling, other clubs. There is also a tuck shop and hot food bar. The improvements have resulted in Larne Youth attracting young people from the wider community both boys and girls and we now offer non-playing membership.
Central to development is the development of our managers and coaches. Over the years we have encouraged managers to participate in accredited training, which has raised the coaching standard throughout the Club and indeed the Borough of Larne. We have also encouraged the development of youth players, by organising and facilitating “referee”, “first aid” and “child protection” training which have helped to broaden the horizons of those involved.
We have an ethos of continual improvement and are continually examining ways of developing and have participated in various educational courses through bodies like the North Eastern Education and Library Board. We are viewed by many as being top class with regards to grass roots soccer and have been used by other organisations as a benchmark for excellence.
We have competed since formation in the Lisburn League for youth football, which is, based about 35 miles from Larne; we also compete locally in the Belfast & East Antrim Youth League and the National Youth League. Our age groups for squads range from Under 10 through to Under 17 and we have recently introduced an Academy, which caters for children aged 6 to 9. We now have eleven teams competing each week and when the Academy numbers are added to this we have nearly 300 boys and girls through our doors each week
Larne Youth have been successful in winning League Championships at various age groups, winning League Cup competitions and also winning open cup competitions within the leagues and independent competitions.
We have also won the NIKE Northern Ireland Championships twice, this progressed our club to the European Finals, which were held in Italy and Belgium respectively. The club equipped themselves well at these and had some notable success over larger European Clubs. We have also won the Ulster “Lions” Championships three times in partnership with the Lions Clubs of Ireland, Larne Branch, and went on to get through to the Lions all Ireland Football Final Competition, which we have made the final to twice in Dublin but as yet not winning the trophy. We have won National League Cups and were also winners of the All Ireland Cup in season 2008-2009,
Our team successes have been noticed in football circles and we have had players from Larne Youth playing for their respective counties each year, i.e. 74 with County Antrim and others who made the, County Down, County Fermanagh, Belfast and County Londonderry at eleven-a-side games and seven-a-side games. 42 players representing those counties and Larne Youth at the Milk Cup Competition at Under 14, Under 16 and Elite level, and 30 who have played in the Foyle Cup and other summer competitions at home and abroad.
In the last seven years we have had thirteen players signing for professional teams in England and Scotland like Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Fulham, Sunderland, Ipswich, Lincoln, Ayr United and Nottingham Forest, the latest player has signed for Newcastle United and he is the current Northern Ireland Under 19 Captain.. Throughout the local Irish League we have 25 past players who now play for Larne, Linfield, Ballymena, Crusaders, Glenavon, Lisburn Distillery, Coleraine, Newry City, Dungannon and Glentoran, not to mention at least 62 former and current members who play for amateur league clubs.
On the International scene we have 13 players past and present who have played for the Northern Ireland Schoolboys, and 10 who have played for the Northern Ireland Under 16 team, the Under 17 team and Under 19 team as well as two Northern Ireland Players of the Year.
In 2006 Jeffrey Hughes became the first player to have gone through Larne Youth and achieved a full international cap with Northern Ireland
In the summer months from May to September we run a mini soccer programme for children aged 5 to 16 and on top of our usual membership we have another 100 + children who come along and enjoy the fun and excitement that football brings. As well as running a week of activities usually in July each year.
In 2006 in conjunction with Seacourt Community Council we approached Larne Borough Council about utilising some land at Seacourt. An organisation called “The Cliff” was formed and we set about gaining funding from Sport NI for the provision of a full-size third generation football pitch with floodlighting, six changing rooms, offices, games room and committee/training room. In June 2007 we were awarded £1.1 million towards the costs of this and received a further £1.1 million in April 2008 to complete the project, work started in March 2009 and was completed in March 2010. The Cliff is now fully operational and is the first facility of its kind within the Larne Borough and is being used by a variety of groups for sports and other needs.
In 2006 Larne Youth were approached by a local association within our area the Harbour Residents Group to see if they could use our premises, we duly obliged and they now have their meetings in our building as well as running a youth club on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Through the years Larne Youth have had associations with and continue to have associations with a wide range of groups like, Larne Borough Council, Irish Football Association and their Special Needs section, Lions charity group, North Eastern Education and Library Board, Northern Ireland Boys Football Association, Lisburn League, East Antrim League, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Larne YMCA, Roddensvale School, other local schools both Primary and Secondary, St John’s Ambulance, Larne Strategic Partnership, South Antrim Community Transport, Northern Health and Social Services Board, Seacourt Community Association.
In 2007 Larne Youth were the first winners of the Larne Borough Sports Forum Junior Sports Club and team of the year, the prize was presented by Mr Lawrie Sanchez.
Larne Youth feel that they are a progressive club that are continually striving to meet the needs of their members, the wider community and other associates.