Career kicks off across border

9th February 2007 at 00:00
Like most boys his age, Kayne McLaggon is gearing up for his GCSEs this summer. But this is one 15-year-old teenager who knows exactly where his future lies, and it's not in school - or even in Wales.

Talented Kayne hopes to find fame and fortune with an English football club. In July, he will become a full-time trainee with Southampton FC, He is following in the studs of Saints' pound;10 million-rated teenager Gareth Bale, from Cardiff, who is being chased by Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

His signing came as committee of Assembly Members reported concerns over young soccer talent drifting over the border. They are calling on the Football Association of Wales, schools and teachers to help stem the flow of best young footballers moving to England.

The report, drafted from a sub-group of the Assembly's Welsh language, sport and culture committee, called on the FAW to develop teacher-led centres of excellence.

But unions have raised concerns about the extra workload that could result, and said it was not up to teachers to talent-spot but to encourage all young people.

They also questioned whether the plan was workable because not enough teachers have the right coaching qualifications.

But it is too late to stop Kayne, a pupil at Barry comprehensive school, Vale of Glamorgan, from going over the border. The talented forward travels to Southampton once a week and has even made two appearances for the club's reserve side.

The Wales under-17 international said: "I had the option to go to Cardiff or Swansea, but the standard of football is better at Southampton. I think it will help my development more."

Young players under 16 are not allowed to sign for clubs more than an hour's travel distance from their home. But Southampton has been able to sign Welsh players, such as Kayne, because the club has an academy in Bath, where he also trains one evening a week.

Kayne is hoping for a first-team place once he goes full-time. He will move to the south coast to join an academy that has already nurtured talent such as Bale and England international Theo Walcott.

David Swallow, head at Barry comprehensive, believes Kayne will gain "considerable success" in his GCSEs. He said the teenager had managed to juggle his sporting and academic commitments well.

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