Hammers host Elite experience

The continued growth and popularity of West Ham United throughout the world saw a group of 20 outstanding young players visit the Academy of Football.

The youngsters took part in the club's third Elite Player Experience after being selected at West Ham United International Academy player identification camps held across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia last year.

During their eight day-long stay in London the boys - ranging in age from ten up to 16 - trained at Little Heath, visited the Boleyn Ground and Wembley Stadium, went sight-seeing and attended the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and the Hammers at White Hart Lane.

Under the guidance of Assistant Academy Director Paul Heffer and his coaching staff, the youngsters also took on West Ham's own Under-15 side, losing 1-0 in a closely-contested match.

International Academy partnership development manager Mike Kelleher, who brought a group of coaches from a number of West Ham's 28 partner clubs in North and Central America to Chadwell Heath for a week-long training course earlier this year, said the experience of training at the Academy of Football would benefit everybody involved.

"We brought 20 boys over who were identified at our national camp held in Washington DC last summer. Tony Carr and Paul Heffer and three other members of the Academy staff came over and evaluated them and they were the cream of the crop.

"The boys came from all over the United States - New Mexico, Florida, New York - two from Canada, one from Mexico and one from our camp in Australia.

"We started our partner club programme in November 2009 and we've now got 28 partners and this is a reflection of the work we have done. It's going to get bigger and better as the years go by.

"This is the best group we've brought over in terms of quality and the feedback has been excellent. We played a game against West Ham's Under-15 team and it ended up only 1-0 to them, so that was testament to the boys that are here."

The 20 youngsters selected for the 2011 Elite Player Experience were James Butcher, Justin Durcan, Devin Edwards, Connor Floyd, Thomas Golden, Luke Haakenson, Marlon Hairston, James Hathaway, Justin Jun, Tyler McCarthy, Jack Miskel, Matthew O'Neal, Stephen Payne, Carlos Reyes, CJ Slough and Billy Werner from the United States, Canadians Derek Cornelius and Rajvir Kahlon, Australian Ross Millard and Miguel Rodriguez from Mexico.

The 2011 national camps will take place in July and feature players picked from the regional camps taking place all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean this spring.

The best players at the three-day residential national camps will then be offered the opportunity to take part in the next Elite Player Experience trip later this year.

For more information about the West Ham United International Academy, click here.