Young North East footballers aiming to improve their play while learning to ply a trade can soon achieve their goal – through a new college and club partnership.
They can transfer their talents to a joint education and sports programme that will see them enjoy their favourite learning - on and off the pitch.
Morpeth Town FC and Tyne Metropolitan College (TyneMet), in North Tyneside, are kicking off an initiative to give 16 to 19-year-olds the best of both worlds.
In September, they will launch up to a three-year scheme for around 60 youngsters a year to spend time playing football while also learning a hands-on profession.
They will practice and play at the Northern Premier League Premier Division club and also study engineering, construction or another vocational course – or even A levels.
At least three teams will be formed, with youngsters playing for Morpeth Town’s youth academy or in college-level leagues and working with the club’s FA-qualified coaches.
Bosses at both organisations say teenagers will improve their playing skills while learning skills in trades key to the North East’s future economic success.
Mo Dixon, Principal of South Tyneside College and TyneMet, said: “This course offers a terrific opportunity for young footballers to play the game they love while also learning a trade.
“The ambition of many teenagers means they want to be able to get better and better at football, but they also know gaining a professional qualification is every bit as important.
“With this new course, there’s no need for them to pick and choose one or the other or give up on a dream – they can do both at the same time.
“Morpeth Town FC is one of the region’s most successful football clubs, and I’m very impressed by the scope of its ambition.
“It is great for young footballers that the club recognises how vital it is that young people can play the game they love but can do so will learning essential employment skills.”
Nick Gray, Academy Director at Morpeth Town FC, the 2016 FA Vase winners, added: “This is the only programme in this region that helps participants become better footballers while learning a trade.
“As a club, we know just how many teenagers love playing football, but we also know the importance of them gaining skills in the right industry.
“While the course will raise their playing skills, and it may prove the launchpad for some to make it professionally, it will also provide an important career back-up option.
“They will receive coaching from our talented and highly qualified team and get to play under the Morpeth Town FC banner.
“We have already seen a high level of interest from students to be part of this programme, and I can’t wait for the September kick-off.”
The full-time programme will allow students to play up to 12 hours-a-week at Morpeth’s Craik Park ground or associated facilities.
They will spend the remainder of their week learning in classrooms and workshops at TyneMet’s Coast Road campus.
Others professions on the agenda are joinery, bricklaying, plumbing and electrical installation.
In 2019, TyneMet, part of Tyne Coast College, opened its new £2.6m TMC construction centre, one of the region’s premier training sites.
It also boasts a range of other sector-leading vocational facilities and programmes.
The football programme will see TyneMet become Morpeth Town’s official and exclusive education partner until at least the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
Several recruitment events will take place each year to encourage new student sign-ons.
More information is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting Nick on 07779 273 675.