Whitehaven boss Gary Charlton calls for stronger pathways in Cumbria

Whitehaven coach Gary Charlton has stressed the importance of building player pathways in Cumbria.

Haven were crowned League 1 champions last month, winning the title using a squad consisting heavily of local talent.

However, Cumbria, one of the sport’s hotbeds, continues to suffer from a player drain, with players often going to Yorkshire or Lancashire to advance their careers.

The emergence of Newcastle has provided another challenge, with stronger pathways in place.

Whitehaven saw an attempt to participate in the reformed reserve grade competition rejected, however, Charlton is still keen to see the club build an infrastructure that will provide stronger opportunities for local talent to develop in the area.

“I still think there is a lot of fo work to be done,” he said.

“We’d all love to have three Cumbrian teams in the Championship but it’s not going to happen because we haven’t got enough good players to play in the Championship.

“Ultimately we’re looking for the lads that want to challenge themselves and if we can pick the best Cumbrians who want to challenge themselves I’m sure we can do a good job.

“On the youth front we’re way behind Newcastle. Newcastle are way ahead of us. They’re cherry-picking all our best players. The 14s and the 16s. We would love to be able to keep them in our club.

“You need an academy and you need a reserve grade. At present we haven’t got the funding to be able to do that. Newcastle have. We’re losing players at 16s onwards right through. They were going down, they were going across and they’ll still do it until we can get an academy and a reserve grade going and that’s the thing for West Cumbria is that we need something like that in place.”