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Academy Agrees Partnership With Onside Sports Coaching

18 August 2021

A photograph of Barrow Academy Manager Liam Reid with Gavin Butler from Onside Sports Coaching
Academy Manager Liam Reid with Gavin Butler from Onside Sports Coaching
Club News

Academy Agrees Partnership With Onside Sports Coaching

18 August 2021

Barrow AFC Academy and Onside Sports Coaching are delighted to announce a much welcomed and exciting new partnership due to begin in 2022/23.

The partnership, which begins formally next season, will see the Development Centre at Onside Sports partner with the Academy, and will see more players in older age groups come under the Barrow AFC umbrella with the support of Onside Sports.

Onside Sports Coaching had previously been operating in conjunction with Carlisle United and will now operate an independent Under 7s to Under 12 Development Centre, before working more closely with the Academy to offer a development squad for Under 13s and above. 

The new agreement will also allow the Club to continue working with former Bluebird Jason Walker and his JW9 Football Academy, ensuring more players access consistent and effective coaching as the The Bluebirds move towards Category 4 Academy status.


  • The Academy and Onside Sports will participate in an improved games programme.
  • Onside Sports Development Centre will be an approved exit route for any players leaving the Academy.


  • Barrow AFC will continue to operate an U9-U18 Academy.
  • Onside Sports will operate an U7-U8 Pre-Academy, an U9-U12 Development Centre (in partnership with Barrow AFC) and a Development Squad for U13 and up, working in partnership with the U13-U16 Academy sides.

More details on how the partnership will work will be announced in due course.

Head of Academy, Liam Reid was keen to stress how important this agreement is to the future of all players in the area.

“I am very grateful to Gavin and all of his staff for agreeing to hold discussions over the last few weeks,” Reid commented.

“I am confident that this will be welcomed by all coaches and clubs in the Barrow & District Junior League, and I am certain Gavin will share the opinion that we should have created an agreement much sooner.

“It is very common knowledge that the “rivalry” between the organisations has been over-hyped in many years and, in agreeing a deal, both organisations are showing a consistent and committed approach to developing players.

“Hopefully, in seasons to come, that will mean we will be celebrating more home-grown talent on the pitch at The Dunes Hotel Stadium.

“I am delighted to welcome them into the Academy structure because this will further strengthen the opportunities for a more consistent approach across our region.”

Gavin Butler, Manager at Onside Sports Development Centre, added: “I am really excited about the upcoming partnership with Barrow AFC. It will provide further pathways for our players and I’m sure it will have a positive impact on the young footballers in the area.

“With the Barrow AFC vision of moving U13 and beyond into the JPL when possible, we feel we can play an important role in this transition. That is not only by providing a larger pool of players that Barrow AFC can select from, but also offering those that want to stay playing grassroots football or those unsuccessful at the trial an opportunity to still gain elite development coaching.

“All the staff at Onside are really excited about the partnership because we feel this has needed to happen for many years.”

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