SIMON Francis admitted he felt a sense of pride in seeing his academy setup flourish in the local area.

Having taken over the venture from Harry Arter in March, the Cherries skipper has been hard at work with the project.

The Simon Francis Academy is currently running a summer camp for youngsters aged between six and 15 at Ashdown Leisure Centre.

With Poole and Christchurch academy centres already in place, new venues have been announced for term-time in September at the likes of Sir David English Sports Centre and Burgate School.

Francis told the Daily Echo: “It’s still early days having taken over from Harry. The summer camp came around quickly but it was a no-brainer, we had to do it because the kids were asking for it. When they are off school it’s the perfect place for the parents to drop them off.

“The kids are loving it and the most important thing is, those who are coming for the first time are coming back.

“It has moved pretty fast but I have always said from the start, the more you put in, the more you get out with these kind of things.

“I have got down there whenever I can on days off or in the evenings if I’ve got time.

“If I wasn’t to show up and just let it run itself, the numbers may deteriorate, or kids may think we are selling the false dream and the captain is never there.

“The club have been great in helping me promote it, as have the local media, which is always important.”

A number of Cherries stars have joined Francis in holding question and answer sessions at the academy.

The likes of Joshua King, Callum Wilson, Lewis Cook, Dan Gosling and Ryan Fraser have got involved, which the captain believes is important.

“The lads are always keen to come down and share a few tips, join in with a few sessions and the kids love it,” he added.

“If you announce there is a player coming down they can’t wait to see them. They bring their autograph books and have pictures with them.”

With official merchandise and kit available to purchase when a youngster signs up, Francis is looking to grow his academy throughout the community.

“The proudest I have been with it is when we had the kits made with SFA on them,” he said.

“The kids were loving it and on one of the first evenings there was 30 kids with the kit on, that was great to see.

“We are building up now to an important time in September where we will be starting back up our term-time and evening sessions.

“We are going to start some lunchtime clubs and after-school clubs as well, so it’s all moving well.”

For more information and to sign up for sessions, visit or contact or 07594653135.