BRAINTREE Town are hoping a new initiative will establish a clear pathway for young local talent to blossom within the club and hopefully produce the Iron stars of the future.

Chairman Lee Harding has revealed that plans to have Braintree Town youth teams are coming to fruition and next season there will be youngsters directly representing the parent club in teams from under-13 to under-18s in the Eastern Junior Alliance leagues.

Until now, there haven't been youth sides under the direct control of the senior club at Cressing Road.

However, Harding hopes this move will allow a conveyor belt to be created for talented young players to work through into the senior sides while being developed as players in a system that runs through the entire club.

"We are progressing with our plans to have our own youth sides and applications are in for league places," said Harding.

"We're looking to have under-18s, 16s, 15s, 14s and under-13s and they will be a formal part of the parent club so that Braintree Town will have teams in those divisions next season.

"We have already started making strides towards those teams getting started.

"The youth sides will be playing on the second pitch (at Cressing Road) so we are putting money into developing the training pitch surface.

"We are doing things like sanding, seeding and cross seeding the surface and that will have benefits for first-team training as well as they'll have a better surface to use."

The emergence of young players such as Alfie Cerulli and Jayden Gipson into Braintree's first team last year showed the club are not frightened to use talented youngsters, even at the highest level, and Harding hopes other youth stars are encouraged to take their place with the Iron.

"We are recruiting now and that is not going to be a problem for us," he said. "The players who are signing up will be full members of the club, with passes to (first-team) games and they will be treated in the same way as we treat first-team players."

Harding said the club would still look to work alongside Braintree Town Youth, which is a club in its own right, but felt these new teams would be a step forward to creating the pathway that the club was keen to create.

He added: "Braintree Town Youth are affiliated to Braintree Town, but they are a separate club so we have put in place our own structure now to have youth teams within the body of the parent club. "The plan is to eventually have teams from first team down to mini soccer and what we have done now by establishing these sides is the first part of that.

"I've no problem whatsoever with the affiliated youth club and I'm very happy to keep working with them in the future, but they are a stand alone club in their own right.

"They are a separate club and we would like to have our own youth section to build a connection right through from the very youngest to veterans football - all at Braintree Town.

"We'd like to think that whether you are eight or 80, you can enjoy your football at Braintree Town.

"We want to have structure where a player could start in mini soccer at age eight under the full control of Braintree Town FC, where they can be developed under the guidance of the club.

"A lot will inevitably fall by the wayside, but there will be a definite pathway into the first team if they are good enough."