How former Ely Rangers youth Jenkins gave back to the club as manager
Ely Rangers manager Julian Jenkins has given back to the Division Three club since his return to the club over five years ago.
Jenkins who has had a fifteen-year involvement in professional sport in various roles is the manager of Wenvoe-based club Ely Rangers and is part of a new beginning at the Blue and Blacks.
The club’s emphasis is bringing through their own home-grown players, despite being on the door step of South Wales giants Cardiff City and Welsh Premier League side Barry Town.
The former CEO of Swiss Football side Servette became the manager of Ely Rangers two-years ago, having been involved with his local side over the last five years after Wayne Matthews suggested he come back on board with the club.
“I have enjoyed my time at the club. I came back over five years ago, at the time I was the Commercial Director with Cardiff City and I initially came to help off the field.
It was logical for me to return as I had played for the club as a child, before leaving to play for Cardiff City at youth level. Wayne had been dong some work at the City and he asked me to come back in.
It’s my club and I would like to think as a group we have made progress on all fronts. Like most things everything takes time. As a club we have a plan, with a clear vision and together everyone is working hard towards that shared goal.
We are a community club and the majority of our players need to come from the Ely community, there are so many talented kids within the area, they just need to be given the chance and support.
We believe we are not just working with the kids to become good footballers but great people, people who will be a positive influence on the area I’m a proud Ely boy and the Rangers is a special place for me. ”
The club have since sought a Head of Youth Development at the club to help bridge the gap of Youth Team football to First Team football, offering a platform to senior football.
An example of how the club have developed their own players is the recent move of forward Sam Johnson who moved to Division One side Taffs Well.
A near miss of relegation in Jenkins’ first season of the club and a relatively stable mid-table finish in his second season in charge of the club has helped the club get to where he wants it to be.
“The first season was a learning curve for both the team and myself. We made a number of changes and started to implement our culture and develop the right environment.
We held in there in the first year, improved last year and having seen the league and the standard I think we are far more equipped for the new challenge this time around.”
Just like when Jenkins was a young lad at Station Road, he has given back to the club the opportunity he was given, with the Ely boss giving four 16 year-olds the opportunity to impress in the first team last season. In the clubs pre-season friendly with Cogan Coronation, the club finished with eight players under the age of 17 and fielded over 15 players under the age of 19 in the opening two preseason games.
“We are a club that spends a lot of time, energy and money on our junior and youth set up. Our coaches and kids at all levels really do the club proud and we have over 300 boys and girls in our system. Last season we brought in four 16 year olds into the first team and they were there on merit.
My philosophy is simple If you’re good enough your old enough. This year will be the first season we have teams at every age group from u5’s to u19’s. We don’t pay players so we have to bring them through and create an environment they can develop in and importantly enjoy. Having been in professional sport most of my life I fully understand we have to show our young footballers a pathway, giving them the chance to learn, progress and develop.
Ely were once a team that were in Division One of Welsh League football but Jenkins is looking to take the club back to the second tier with the nucleus of home-grown talent.
“When you look back at the history of this club, the teams that have been successful have been based around players who have come through the junior set up.”
The last time the club were in the first division the majority of the team was made up of players having played junior football at the club, two sets of brothers the Clarke’s and the Boulton’s with the manger being Johnny Boulton someone who had coached and managed at junior level he was my manger as a kid, everyone had progressed through the age groups.
“We need to develop this again and we are working hard everyday to regain our first division status, but we won’t cut corners or throw money at it. We want to do it with the right infrastructure in place that will keep us there.
We don’t want to be a club in the First Division we want to be a First Division club and there is a big difference. I believe the building blocks we as a collective have put in place over the past two years are moving us towards our goal.”
(Featured Image: Ely Rangers FC)