HARTLEPOOL United have teamed up with a town school to launch an innovative new football academy for talented teenagers.
Officials at the Sky Bet League Two club say they are “delighted” to announce the formation of a new Elite Development Academy which will give more youngsters the chance to work towards their footballing dreams.
The new scheme will see 16 to 18-year-olds given the opportunity to continue with their education at Dyke House Sports & Technology College, in Mapleton Road, while also gaining access to professional football training at the club.
Once successfully enrolled, students can look forward to working towards a wide variety of A Levels and a BTEC in sport science, alongside being part of the Hartlepool United Elite Development Academy.
Russ Green, Pools’ chief executive, said: “We’re all very excited about this new venture and are confident it will prove a huge success.
“The students will all be given access to the highest quality of football coaching and at the same time be able to gain a first-class education at Dyke House.
“The Elite Development Academy will be an important part of our football club and we will make sure they feel a part of it by ensuring regular interaction with our first team players and youth team squad.
“It’s something that is really new but we can’t wait to get things up and running because we think it can be of massive benefit to the talented young people in our town.”
The launch event was held at Pools’ Victoria Park ground and also attended by manager Colin Cooper and Andrew Jordon, executive principal at Dyke House.
Meanwhile, Pools’ very own talented teens Brad Walker, 18, and 19-year-old Luke James were also there to illustrate to those youngsters who dream of being a professional footballer that it could become a reality.
Colin Cooper told the Mail: “Dyke House are very focused on sport and technology and for us the tie in is perfect.
“I know the standards Andrew and his staff have are very very high. The one thing I demand is high standards
“Players who may be have had the disappointment at not getting a scholarhip at a club know that something could still happen for the over those two years.
“The worst case scenario for the young people is if it does not happen they will still come out with an excellent qualification and come out as a better person.”
Mr Jordon said he was “thrilled” with the new Elite Development Academy and said he believes it will help expand the options over to young people in the region.
He said: “We are honoured to be asked to provide the educational support and input for such an innovative concept.
“Allowing students to pursue their sporting dream alongside academic excellence will open the door wide to a vast range of opportunities in the future.”
Trials for the new scheme will open in June where potential players will be assessed on their sporting suitability and credentials. The course is open to boys and girls, with 20 places available for both genders.
Academy bosses say the minimum entry requirements are five A* to C grades at GCSE, including English and Maths.