PETERSFIELD TOWN have announced a new partnership with Southern League Premier South outfit Gosport Borough.
The partnership will see Joe Lea and Pat Suraci take on the first-team football coaching and management duties at the Rams on May 1, with current manager Mark Summerhill moving to a new role at the club as head of football.
Lea, 24, and Suraci, 23, are currently the joint centre of excellence managers at Gosport, where they co-manage the under-23s and the under-18s, and run the club’s football college programme.
The pair also currently hold positions as academy coaches at Championship outfit AFC Bournemouth, and they both have their UEFA B licence in football coaching.
Lea and Suraci will combine their new duties at Petersfield with their roles at Gosport and Bournemouth.
The new partnership between Gosport and the Rams will preserve the integrity of competition and independence of both clubs.
Current Petersfield manager Mark Summerhill explained the idea of the partnership first came about after the Rams produced an impressive performance when they lost 1-0 at Gosport in the Portsmouth Senior Cup last month.
“We went to Gosport and put on a show and they approached us after the game and asked us if we would be interested in a partnership,” said Summerhill.
“There have been a lot of long meetings between the two clubs since then to go through everything and agree it.
“This is exciting news for the club and the town, with two really good young full-time coaches joining us.
“I’m continuing as head of football and I will provide Wessex League experience.
“I’ve been incredibly proud to be Petersfield manager, and I’m incredibly proud to become head of football. Our aim for next season is the play-offs.
“We’re hoping Gosport will come to Petersfield for a pre-season friendly, and hopefully AFC Bournemouth will also bring a side here for a friendly – which would be great for people in the town.”
Petersfield chairman John Geddes is also excited by the new partnership with Gosport.
He said: “This is a great opportunity for both clubs.
“Football at the lower levels is in danger of being lost.
“The opportunity to have the chance to have top-quality coaches to help develop our young squad would be difficult to turn down.
“Both clubs will keep their identity in their respective leagues and continue to be run independently.”
Gosport Borough chairman Iain McInnes added: “Football’s future at the lower step level will rely increasingly on partnerships to survive.
“Where an initiative that combines ambition development and integrity offers a desirable hybrid to both clubs we should support it unreservedly.”
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