Teenagers across Bedfordshire can now apply for a new football and education scholarship which could ultimately see them become professional footballers, thanks to a new partnership between Stevenage FC and Biggleswade United.
The scheme, called the Biggleswade United & Stevenage FC Elite Development Programme will launch in September 2016 and will see 25 school leavers aged 16-19 embark on an exciting two-year programme offering a first class education whilst participating within a professional football club environment.
The two year scholarship will see participants study for a BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport - the equivalent of 3 A-Levels – whilst also gaining qualifications to work in the sports industry, including FA coaching badges. They will also train for up to eight hours a week and play in the British Colleges League.
Robbie O’Keefe, Academy Manager at Stevenage FC, comments, “We’re delighted to launch this new Elite College scheme in partnership with Biggleswade United FC which will benefit both clubs but most importantly young, willing talent looking to build a platform for their future playing and non-playing careers.
“The two clubs will work together daily with young players, giving late developers another chance in the world of football whilst at the same time continuing their educational studies. These schemes have proven success over the years, one of the best examples being George Boyd who has gone on to play Premier League and international football.
“Importantly they also provide young boys who have a natural love for the game alternative career paths within the industry, if their football ability doesn’t meet the standards required to forge a playing career. Having met with Guillem Balague and his staff this week it’s clear that the club has a real sense of where it wants to be and how it can get there and we are really happy to join them on that journey. We hope this can be the launch pad for a successful and beneficial partnership for both clubs.”
Guillem Balague, Sky Sports presenter and Director of Football at Biggleswade United said, “I have always maintained that Biggleswade United is been about much more than just football but also about the nurturing of, and the co-existence within, the community. The launch of this scheme with Stevenage FC is unquestionably one of the most important days in the history of this football club and to say I’m proud doesn’t even begin to express my feelings.
“Along their journey youngsters will also receive up to eight hours a week training with, among others, Cristian Colás who is a Pro Licenced Qualified Coach and also strive to gain various qualifications, including FA Coaching badges, that can help them decide and shape their futures.
“For a long time now I have ‘banged the drum’ about the quality of coaching available at our little club. Stevenage’s decision to join forces with us is justifiable confirmation of the enormously high levels learning skills we can offer and how, via the sport, we can help young people prepare not just for football, but for life itself.”
Youngsters interested in the Biggleswade United & Stevenage FC Elite Development Programme, which will start in September 2016, are invited to register their interest by emailing Ian Morris on IanM@stevenagefc.com.