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by Paul Suart
The Birmingham Mail
February 15, 2012

ASTON Villa’s next generation of stars learned silky new moves when they took tips from Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers.

Members of the under-15s squad teamed up with ballerinas and male dancers to learn skills which could be pivotal to their development as footballers.

The masterclass was organised as part of an ongoing partnership between the two organisations, with the football club keen to adopt BRB’s approach to identifying talented schoolchildren.

Steve Burns, Villa’s assistant academy manager, said: “It was an opportunity for the players to step out of one environment and into another and see how the dancers train and perform. “It gave them a different perspective of professional athletes, right down to their movements and diet.”

Villa’s under-17s trained with BRB last year and Steve said it had already paid dividends, with three of the squad featuring in the England Under 17s team which won a top tournament in Portugal.

Pearl Chesterman, director for learning at BRB, was impressed by the players’ efforts. He said: “For a group of young kids thrown into an alien environment, they were very open-minded and prepared to take home things they could implement as they develop their careers. “The boys took it very seriously and saw the benefits of attention to detail and how to use different muscle groups.”

Representatives from BRB visit 40 schools across the city every year to spot promise in Year One youngsters, as part of a scheme called Dance Track. “We look for focus and concentration, spatial awareness, flexibility – attributes that could be key for a promising footballer,” added Mr Chesterman.

Mr Burns said Villa had learned from the scheme and planned to roll their own talent-spotting version out to more schools in September. “We have seen how they identify talent and thought it may be an avenue to pursue,” he said.
© 2012 Trinity Mirror Midlands Limited

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