Southampton Football Club is delighted to give its backing to a new initiative which offers 16-19 year-olds a route back into football.
Each year across the country, there are many young footballers who are offered scholarships to complete their education both on and off the field, they are the lucky ones.
But what of those who have trained with professional clubs from an early age, and are then not taken on, should their career end there?
In many cases it does, but the Academy at Southampton is now bucking that trend with a new second chance programme which enables youngsters to gain a route back into football, combined with an academic course studying a BTEC Diploma or Extended Diploma in Sport.
The club has established a link with the Elite Centre at Sparsholt college near Winchester in a bid to leave no stone unturned in developing youth talent.
It enables players who have been released from professional clubs including Southampton to remain in football and education, so that those who are late developers or just missed out on a scholarship, have a chance to work their way back into the game.
Youngsters have the opportunity of joining a programme directly linked to a high end Premier League academy, whilst Elite Centre players will be given an opportunity of regular visits to the Southampton Academy base at Staplewood to join in training and play in matches.
It’s a further example of the Saints Academy’s commitment to innovation and producing home-grown talent, and desire to never close the door on any player.
Sparsholt College itself boasts a magnificent campus just outside Winchester where accommodation is available for over 400 students. The vision for excellence at Sparsholt College has seen significant investment into facilities which include three on-site pitches, with four brand new changing rooms (pitch-side).
It was from this system that current Saints U18s player Isaac Nehemie, who joined the course in July 2012, successfully went on to gain a full scholarship with the club in November last year.
The full-back, who was formerly of Crystal Palace, is now six months into his time with the club and has played regularly for Jason Dodd’s Under-18s side since making his debut in a 5-2 win over Sunderland at Staplewood.
Matt Crocker, Academy Manager at Southampton FC commented:
“We are delighted to be linking up with Sparsholt on this exciting project. We recognise that talent is something that needs to be nurtured over time and this programme allows for that, supporting the concept of late developers such as Isaac. We will work closely with Sparsholt on areas such as Technical programming, Sport Science, Psychology and Education to give the players the individual support they need to progress to the next level.”
In the picture: Neil Benson (Sparsholt Football Academy Manager), Matt Crocker, Isaac Nehemie, Les Reed (FDSC Director), Lawrence Blair (Learning Manager for Sport at Sparsholt College)
Sparsholt College is currently recruiting players throughout the southern region and from all areas of the UK.
Anyone seeking an opportunity to further develop their football and extend their academic qualifications is urged to contact the College with a view to attending one of our Open Days or join us for a day’s trial/training by arrangement. For further details, contact Neil Benson, Football Academy Manager on 07860 150075 or Neil.Benson@Sparsholt.ac.uk or contact the Academy Team on 01962 797588.