Barking academy director Mick O’Shea is looking to put on more tournaments in the area as part of their partnership with Arsenal.

Arsenal entered a new partnership with the Bostik North club in which the two clubs will work together to unearth young talent in the Barking and Dagenham areas.

The aim of the partnership is to find more talents like Alex Iwobi, who was schooled in the area and scouted by Arsenal while he was playing for his school team.

Iwobi went on to progress through the Arsenal youth ranks, break into the Arsenal first team and become a regular for the Nigeria national team.

Since the agreement, Barking have held a tournament for Year Four school students involving 15 schools and over 150 children.

The tournament was a big success, and something that Barking’s academy director, Mick O’Shea, wants to do more of.

“We are looking to help Arsenal identify young talented lads from Barking & Dagenham, so that’s the plan,” O’Shea told the Islington Gazette.

“We want to nurture the gifted and talented kids and the rough diamonds and hopefully they end up with a shiny one in the Premier League like Alex Iwobi, who was picked up at a young age from close to here.

“It really is the focus and we start from even below Year Four, so we will be looking to do Year Three and Year Two competitions after Christmas.”

Arsenal send coaches down to Barking to train kids twice a week.

They intend to find promising youngsters and draft them into their pre-academies with the hope of them joining the Hale End academy.

“The actual link is right the way down from the youngsters to the academy stuff which Rob (O’Brien) and I do on a daily basis with four to five-year-olds,” O’Shea explained.

“Basically the format is Arsenal have coaches come in to Barking Football Club on a weekly basis on a Monday and Thursday.

“They nurture and bring on kids and if they show real potential, they’ll be asked to go to a pre-academy with one at Wadham Lodge and another in Shenfield and eventually they’ll end up in Hale End itself on a yearly basis, so the whole package is there.

“We took a long time negotiating the deal and it is about nurturing young talent and coaching them the Arsenal way, so that’s what the whole programme is about.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you are five, six, seven or eight-years-old, we want to see you because that’s where we want to start.”

Arsenal chose Barking for the partnership due to their dedication to nurturing talent and forward thinking methods

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News and feature writer with a BA in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of East London. Long-time Arsenal fan also following Sevilla and local side Southend United. You can find me on Twitter @jeinchy29 talking about Arsenal and the issues affecting the English game,