Worksop Town hope to give local youngsters a future in football or guide them into further education, through their new Football Academy.
Tigers will partner with Doncaster College to launch the academy this summer, with places for 72 boys and girls.
First team manager Mark Shaw will head the academy, and two of his players, Jake Scott and Conor Sellars, will take up positions as coaches.
Students will combine daily training sessions and matches with classroom studies, under the watchful eye of teaching staff from Doncaster College.
Any of the 16 to 18-year-olds who complete the course but don’t develop a career on the pitch, will gain academic qualifications, and the possibility of going on to study at university.
Shaw believes it’s a big step for both the football club and the town.
“It’s a massive opportunity, and it has been a long term project of mine,” he said.
“It will give children the chance to do sport, play for a highly ambitious and historic football club, and gain academic qualifications, opening up the route to university or maybe a scholarship to America.”
The academy, which Tigers hope to base at a yet to be confirmed venue close to the town centre, will create two boys teams and a girls team.
An Under 19s boys side will play in the HKL North Midlands Development Football League, the younger boys will feature in the British College League, and the women’s team will enter the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women’s County League.
On the academic side of the course, the youngsters will spend 10 to 15 hours per week working towards a Level 1, 2 or 3 BTEC sports diploma, worth up to three A-Levels.
Russ Horsley, the sports academy development manager at Doncaster College and University Centre, called it an exciting partnership.
He said: “I know Mark and the people at the club from my football background and I have every confidence in them to deliver a first class programme.”
“It’s a really forward thinking club.”
“It fits in line with our new academy of sport, launching in August.”
The Worksop Town academy is expected to begin in August or September, but football trials for prospective students could take place as early as next month.
Shaw hopes his football club will benefit greatly from attracting local talent to the course.
“The idea is to provide another club service to the community, and set up a conveyor belt system.”
“At professional club academies you get a little bit of the dream, but never really get the chance to play for the first team.”
“These kids will get an opportunity to try and break into our first team.”
The academy will be funded by Doncaster College, and Shaw’s wish is that it eventually starts to pay off financially for Tigers – like it has for a club down the M1.
“The club won’t lose money on it, but we may need a bit of help once we agree on a facility, renovating it.”
“Further down the line we could end up selling a player or two, like Ilkeston have recently.”
Tigers chairman Ian Smith lauded the work Shaw has put in to make his academy dream a reality.
“The club have come a long way in the last six months,” he said.
“A lot of work is being done to secure the long term future of Worksop Town FC and its move to being fully supporter led and an even more important part of the community than it already is.”
“The announcement made today is an important part of making this happen.”
“Mark Shaw has worked especially hard to make the academy project a reality. He deserves a lot of credit and a major pat on the back for his tireless effort.”
“The football club decision making committee are in unanimous support of the project and we would like to thank Doncaster College for their partnership and advice in getting the academy started.”
Shaw was quick to highlight the financial help Bassetlaw Council have provided for Tigers, calling it vital in the establishing of an academy.
“This would not have happened if the council and Coun Simon Greaves had not shown their support as early in May, when the club was having problems.”
“Our academy will show they were right to back myself and the club.”
“We’re doing things earlier than we said we would do them, but without the council’s support we wouldn’t have been able to create a new education scheme for this district.”
Anyone aged between 16 and 18 interested in applying to join the academy should send their CV and a football CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
The football CV should include previous clubs, height, position, strongest foot and any medical conditions.