Doyle rel­ish­ing the chance to Sad­dle up in cup

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FOOTBALL - By ANDY TURNER

COVEN­TRY teenager Al­fie Bates took a huge step to­wards ful­fill­ing his dream of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller when he made his de­but for Wal­sall last month.

The for­mer Coundon Court school­boy has been on quite a jour­ney.

He suf­fered the dev­as­tat­ing blow of los­ing his mum to can­cer five years ago be­fore be­ing re­leased by Birm­ing­ham City, aged 15.

But the de­ter­mined mid­fielder made her a prom­ise that he’d ‘make it,’ and his hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion paid off when he was picked by Sad­dlers’ boss Dean Keates to face Mid­dles­brough Un­der-21s in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy.

“It’s been a jour­ney all right,” said the 17-year-old, who is a big Sky Blues fan, go­ing to both Wem­b­ley fi­nals in re­cent sea­sons.

“My mum used to take me to foot­ball when I was lit­tle.

“When she was very ill be­fore she passed away I told her that I was go­ing to be a pro­fes­sional foot­baller, what­ever it takes.

“That’s what drives me on ev­ery day.”

Al­fie also lost an­other close fam­ily mem­ber nine months ago when his great grand­dad Alf, af­ter whom he was named, died aged 92.

“I want to es­tab­lish my­self as a League One pro and then play at the high­est level I can,” said Al­fie.

“I am still on a schol­ar­ship, so not signed a pro con­tract yet but hope­fully I will be able to do that.

“Play­ers are usu­ally of­fered their first pro con­tracts at the end of their sec­ond year so hope­fully I can earn that by the end of this sea­son.”

Al­fie comes from a sporty fam­ily with his mum Lesley Mal­lows and his two sis­ters, Carly, aged 18 and Holly, 14, tal­ented ath­letes with Coven­try Go­diva and rep­re­sent­ing Eng­land.

Carly be­came the fastest un­der15 hur­dler in Eng­land in 2014, break­ing the record set by leg­endary

I have been train­ing with the first team for a while now and just to get my first ap­pear­ance was re­ally good and it’s all about look­ing to my fu­ture

now. Olympian Denise Lewis at the West Mid­lands Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships. In­cred­i­bly, her mum set the record for the 800 me­tres race at the same event in 1987.

De­voted mum Lesley used to take Al­fie to foot­ball train­ing and tri­als as a small boy while dad Wayne was busy set­ting up his busi­ness.

He started out at Coundon Court Ju­niors be­fore a short spell train­ing with the Sky Blues Acad­emy aged seven, be­fore be­ing taken on by Birm­ing­ham City.

“I had tri­als at Coven­try and spent a few weeks there but they didn’t seem that keen on me so I went to Birm­ing­ham and stayed there un­til I was 15,” he said.

“I was al­ways quite small as a kid and my height has been an is­sue for some peo­ple. I am only 5ft 7 now but I am fill­ing out a bit and it’s not so much of an is­sue

Sky Blues Re­porter andy.turner@reach­

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