A Barnet-based football club is looking to the future for its youngsters after one of its Under-12 teams embarked on a 49-game winning streak and registered a quintuple of trophies last season – achievements which have begun attracting attention from professional scouts.

Whetstone Wanderers Under-12 Pumas have not lost a game since March 2016, and in 2016/17 won the Watford Friendly Red League, the Watford Friendly League Cup, the Watford Friendly Challenge Cup, Middesex FA Under-12 Cup and the AFA County Cup.

Coming into the new campaign, the now Under-13 age group has moved to the Eastern Junior Alliance under the Cockfosters FC umbrella – having, in reality, outgrown their previous surroundings and now participating in the highest level they could within grassroots football.

It’s not bad for a team run by volunteers, and one that aims to teach youngsters a lot more than how to pass a ball on a Sunday morning. For coach Vas Chiotis, he wants his young players to learn as much off the pitch as on it – if not more.

He said: “The most important thing for me is building memories and as is the life lessons they pick up. It’s learning how to dig deep when things aren’t going your way. Learning how to be brave and learn respect.

“I want them to have work ethic and try their best. Not just doing enough, but the best you can.

“We’ve been on a journey where we have always encouraged the kids to express themselves on a Sunday. What I do is coach them really hard in the week, so it’s almost like a day off when it gets to a game."

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The squad with their silverware from last season.

The Pumas welcome three new additions to the squad for the forthcoming season, including one player re-joining after a spell at Colchester United, who had plucked him from their ranks last season.

They have also recently bid farewell to another talented youngster, who has signed a two-year youth deal at Stevenage.

Chiotis has high hopes for some of his young footballers develop on the pitch and head towards their teenage years, but is careful not to have them dreaming of their name in lights just yet.

He said: “I don’t sell them the dream, it’s very hard to make it. But the chances are there. They’ve got good ability and great attitude.

“We have a good relationship with professional clubs and a healthy scout network built on trust and respect. I regularly have scouts attend our matches, and they closely monitor the progress of the lads.

“Some of these boys could make it and the rest will probably play a very high level in non-league football.

“But for now, we continue our journey and aim high. The fall-back is always there if the progression is wanted in the immediate future; we had eight lads graduate to pro academies in recent years. Some have remained in the system, some are back with us. The door is always open.”

The possibility of making it in the game is a far cry from the alternative many of Whetstone’s players have faced in their young lives, with the life lessons the boys are taught being vital in their youth development off the pitch.

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For some, the football club is an escape, and that is something not lost on the coach – if that’s the right word for someone who takes his players’ pastoral care so seriously.

He said: “Being a coach, you need to be committed to the journey yourself. You need to know your subject and you need to be ahead of the game.

"You also need to be fully committed to each and every player, regardless of what challenges that may bring.

"For some of the boys you are more than a coach. School and a good education is important, but playing football also keeps them off the streets and out of trouble.

“We do our best to ensure every player feels respected and treated as equally important to all of his team mates. There’s boys who will have difficult situations and for some football is a getaway from the everyday struggles of life for them.”