WHEN Sean Kenney first walked in the door as Ardeer Thistle manager they had “no players” – now they have “hundreds”.

They may not all be first team player, just yet, but with the introduction of the club’s new youth academy set up, alongside their resurgent first team, the future is looking bright in Stevenston.

Kenney sat down with academy secretary Stuart Roy to speak to Ardeer Thistle’s social media team about the new club structure following its launch, with lofty ambitions stretching far beyond the football pitch.

“All these local teams need a good youth structure, we know that we can’t go out and spend a fortune on players like other teams can, so we need to develop players,” Kenney explained.

“We also live in a community, and we need stuff for the kids as well. A big thing for me is the area that we live in, that the club’s based in, there’s not a lot of things to do.

“If we can set up good structured activities for kids then we hope we can help the community.

“We’ll be looking to get involved in the community more out with the kids just coming to training, we’ll be looking to be a big part in the community, you’re looking to give back as well.”

It’s a strong mindset which is shared by Stuart Roy, whose Cunningham Youth sides will now fall under the Ardeer Thistle banner.

He and Sean have shared a strong relationship for over 20 years, and he says he is delighted how everything has fallen into place.

Stuart commented: “We’re just down to have fun and really enjoy it. Sean’s been down to quite a few games and the kids love it.

“My main things the kids having fun, enjoying the game we all love. If they do progress into the first team that’s great.

“This is a long-term vision we’ll be here for the future now, I hope it’ll continue right through until I retire, Sean retires.

“This is the start of something great.”

While Sean concurred: “It’s a massive thing for the club, we just want to see a lot of kids, out enjoying their football and wearing the Ardeer jersey.”