FORMER professionals Paul Parry and Darren Jones are hoping to unearth the next generation of Gwent football stars after setting up the Parry & Jones Soccer School (PJSS).

Chepstow-born Parry won 12 caps for Wales between 2004 and 2008 and was an FA Cup runner-up with Cardiff City a decade ago.

He retired in 2014 and Jones enjoyed three separate spells with his hometown club Newport County AFC before hanging up his boots last year.

The pair got to know each other during their time at Shrewsbury Town and joined forces last year to set up PJSS.

Since getting up and running in October they have recruited around 100 children aged six to 14 and they aim to expand to under-16s in time.

PJSS currently employs five coaches, including a goalkeeping coach and they are also aiming to recruit a female coach as they aim to begin training sessions for girls in the near future.

Sessions take place at Llanwern High on Monday nights and at Bridgend College on Fridays and Parry and Jones have received a major boost thanks to an official tie-up with the Bristol City Academy.

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“Obviously Bristol City have seen the benefit of what we’re doing and I think they’ve wanted somewhere over here for some time,” said Parry (above), who started his youth career with the Robins back in 1995.

“They’ve been waiting for the right people to take it and they found out about us.

“We jumped at it because it will be good for us and for the coaches to go over there and learn from their coaches and see how they do things in their academy.

“It’s a big boost,” added the 38-year-old. “We were doing well without needing to use them as a pulling tool but obviously to show their badge is definitely going to be an added bonus to us.

“Our end goal is to send people over to them and for them to come and take people from us because we are a development centre.

“We want to nurture the children who come to us and give them structured sessions and our reward will be for a couple of hundred to be picked off and go over to their academy.”

Jones, who also started out with Bristol City in the late 1990s, explained: “We’re trying to bridge that gap between grassroots and academy football.

“We went over to the Bristol City academy to watch them train and the standard is frightening.

“For grassroots players to get anywhere near that there needs to be somewhere in the middle.

“It’s a pathway and if we can get them up towards that standard then the academy is more likely to take children from us than from a grassroots club.

“For us it’s about developing kids and trying to give them the best start we can.”

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Jones, who is also currently manager of Welsh League club Chepstow Town (above), left County last summer and he says the pair are happy to work with the Exiles too.

“We have a good relationship with Newport County,” said the 34-year-old.

“I’m still close to [County operational chairman] Gavin Foxall, who has helped us a lot with planning, but nothing was there for us and Bristol contacted us.”

Parry added: “For now our loyalties would be to Bristol City and we’re going to recommend our best players to them.

“But, if you look at where they are as an academy and where Newport are as an academy, there will be lads that fit for both.

“And if we can filter people into academies at whatever level then that’s a result for us.”

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But Parry (pictured above celebrating his only international goal with current Wales boss Ryan Giggs in 2004) is keen to emphasize that enjoyment is the number one aim for the youngsters who come through their doors.

“The experience that we’ve had from within the game stands us in good stead in terms of the environment that we want to create and how we would want to be treated if we were in the youngsters’ shoes,” he said.

“I think that’s really important, especially in this day and age when lads are getting taken into academies at such a young age and they’re being dictated to.

“They’re being drilled from such a young age and if that keeps happening then by the time they’ve got to high school they’ve lost their love for the game.

“I think we’re just trying to put the enjoyment back into it with a lot of encouragement and some really good coaches who we’ve got on board.

“And with us having been in the game it means we’ve been able to recruit the coaches that we want to get our methods and beliefs across to the kids.

“At the end of the day it’s our names that we’re putting to it and whatever they do comes back on us.

“It’s important that we select the right people and we get a lot of parent feedback to say that the coaches are really good.”

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Parry and Jones are currently financing the conversion of an old warehouse off Usk Way in Newport (above) into a new indoor centre with two 3G pitches, a café and conference rooms.

The new facility should be opening over the Easter weekend.

“There’s definitely a market for it because there’s not enough facilities in Newport and there’s no indoor facility,” said Jones.

“There was one in Cwmbran but that burned down so the nearest one at the moment is in Cardiff.”

Parry added: “It’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility with the same pitches that they have at St George’s Park [home of the English Football Association] so it will be a real good environment for coaching.

“It will add to what we’ve got and we’ll open it to the public, for schools and for local clubs as well.”

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