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Cambridge's Jez George walks the extra mile, again
Jez and Matt notched up 260 miles last year
Jez (right) and Matt notched up 260 miles last year

A year ago the feet of two members of Cambridge United's staff were bearing the brunt of a 260 mile hike.

Clearly the pair are gluttons for punishment as director Jez George and centre of excellence manager Matt Walker prepare for a 400 mile mission.

The challenge is designed to raise awareness - and cash - for the financial plight suffered by youth academies at non-league clubs.

Jez and Matt will stop off at a host of clubs that have joined the campaign.

Starting off at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground on 22 April the pair will head to York, Mansfield, Rushden, Luton, Oxford and then, 18 days later, emerge at Wembley.

The arrival date happens to coincide with the FA Trophy final, a competition the U's are still in, and while it is only being whispered about at the moment, there is hope Martin Ling can lead his men to the big day.

Perfect timing

The last walk raised £45,000 for Cambridge's youth set-up.

Seven locations and 400 miles in 18 days
Seven locations and 400 miles in 18 days

Ever since the U's were relegated from England's fourth division they haven't received funding towards their academy.

The clubs on the route have all suffered a similar fate and continue to try and produce young talent despite receiving no funding from the Football Association.

Premier League players such as Michael Owen (Wrexham), Matthew Upson (Luton) and Jack Collison (Cambridge) have all had humble beginnings and Jez is concerned the production line is under threat.

He told BBC Cambridgeshire: "These clubs are ex-Football League clubs, exactly like Cambridge, who face the same problems we do.

"The clubs are trying to keep these schemes alive without any help from the authorities and we just felt that we wanted to highlight the cause nationwide."

"It would be fantastic if the club could get to the FA Trophy final at Wembley, but perhaps that's too perfect timing to expect."

The effort has been pulled together under the title of Cambridge United Youth and Community Trust, with the plan of extending footballing opportunities to youngsters within a 60 mile radius of the R Costings Abbey Stadium.

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