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Stevenage FC and Thameslink kick off 2022 with renewed Academy partnership

31 January 2022

Stevenage FC Academy and the rail operator have partnered up for the eighth year running to provide the Club’s apprentices with free train travel on Thameslink and Great Northern routes...

The longstanding partnership enables players of all backgrounds to easily get to the training ground from their home, school, or college, free of charge. Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is committed to investing into the communities it serves and with dedicated partnerships, such as this, the company can help to upskill the next generation – paving the way towards a bright future.   

Stevenage FC Academy offers elite training and junior coaching to future football stars – the club’s apprentice intake for 2022 is eighteen 17 to 18-year olds.

Tom Moran, Managing Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “It’s important that young people are given equal opportunities to gain skills and get ahead. It’s great to renew our partnership with Stevenage FC Academy for another year to help the next generation of sportsmen grow in confidence, make new friends and benefit from opportunities they may not otherwise have access to. It’s one of the ways we are making a tangible difference to those living in our communities. We’re backing the Boro boys for success in 2022!”

First year scholar Owen Cochrane made his First Team debut in December 2021, and praised the scheme by saying, “Having the link between Stevenage and Thameslink has been really helpful towards my development as a player. Travelling to training every day from where I live would have been a huge struggle, but with the Thameslink pass it is one less thing to worry about.”.

Second year scholar and League Football Education award winner Alex Aitken said, “The way we get to travel to the Academy for free is amazing. I get to put all of my energy into football and my studies, without worrying about how I get there. My aim is to earn a professional contract so being able to focus fully is a huge plus”.

First Team defender Mackye Townsend-West said, “The Thameslink affiliation and train passes were a massive help to me in earning a professional contract and being able to become the footballer I am today. I passed my apprenticeship in the classroom while developing as a person and a footballer, with the pass allowing me to attend all games and lessons without having to worry about getting there every day. Without the train pass, it is difficult to tell if I would have developed this much as a player”.

Robbie O’Keefe, Stevenage FC Academy Manager, said: “The help provided by GTR really does make a massive difference to our young players who are able to make these journeys without the worry of being burdened with additional travel costs and as importantly knowing they benefit from a very reliable service to get them to and from work each day. The partnership is an excellent one from an Academy perspective and one we value and appreciate enormously”.

 Academy graduates who have benefited from GTR’s travel support in past years include defender Mackye Townsend-West, now in Stevenage’s first team squad, Ben Wilmot, now at Watford, Doncaster’s Fejiri Okenabirhie and Shrewsbury Town's Daniel Udoh.

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Editors’ notes

  • Stevenage Football Club Academy, based at the Shephalbury Sports Academy on Broadhall Way, provides training activities and facilities for all ages and abilities as well as its talent identification and elite development programmes, with coaching for players with the potential to be professional members of the first-team squad.
  • Govia Thameslink Railway has similar partnerships with Luton Town and Boreham Wood football clubs.

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