New Hartlepool academy will search for football stars of the future

Back row, Stephen Hammond and Martin Scott, with Antony Sweeney and James Martin at the launch.
Back row, Stephen Hammond and Martin Scott, with Antony Sweeney and James Martin at the launch.

A former Hartlepool United manager is helping to produce football stars of the future.

The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College in Hartlepool is searching for the finest talent in the area after bringing in Martin Scott’s successful Improtech Soccer company to put the school on the footballing map.

Martin Scott and Stephen Hammond with James Martin and Antony Sweeney at the launch.

Martin Scott and Stephen Hammond with James Martin and Antony Sweeney at the launch.

Recruitment sessions will begin immediately to fill the first year of the Academy, which will officially open its doors in September with a minimum intake of 16.

Stephen Hammond, headteacher of the Catcote Road school, told the Mail: “We’re very excited about the whole project and absolutely thrilled to have Improtech Soccer as providers for the new Football Academy.

“They are the leading supplier of elite football coaching in education in the North East and have a fantastic track record of taking young prospects and developing them into players that get signed by professional football clubs.

“Martyrs already had a reputation for producing quality footballers - most notably Andy and David Linighan of course - but with the new Academy the school is hoping to take it to the next level in terms of numbers.

In the last few years we have had Improtech students go on to sign for Sunderland, Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool and now that we are at Martyrs we’re excited about trying to find the best young players in a whole new catchment area

Martin Scott

“In the next few years we’re determined to develop a reputation as the ‘go-to’ school for talented players who want to make the very best of their abilities, both in education and football.”

Improtech Soccer was founded by former Sunderland star and Hartlepool coach Martin Scott, who holds the highest coaching qualification in football, the UEFA Pro Licence.

Having launched at Kepier Academy in Houghton, Sunderland, five years ago, Improtech has built on its success expanding into Sunderland College earlier this year and now into English Martyrs.

Mr Scott said: “We want to do in Hartlepool what we’ve previously done in Sunderland in terms of taking players with ability and making the most of them and we see Martyrs as the perfect partner.

“In the last few years we have had Improtech students go on to sign for Sunderland, Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool and now that we are at Martyrs we’re excited about trying to find the best young players in a whole new catchment area.”

Two successful Improtech graduates are currently playing for Hartlepool United - James Martin and Kenton Richardson - and Pools’ youth team coach Anthony Sweeney said the new Academy can only benefit the town.

“Clubs like Hartlepool United depend on young players coming through and the fact we’ve got a UEFA Pro Licence coach training these lads in Hartlepool is fantastic,” he said.

“Martin used to coach me and I learned so much from what he did that I try to incorporate elements of it into my own coaching.”

Defender James Martin, who was also there to mark the launch of the new Martyrs Academy, said: “Improtech was a massive benefit to me in improving my technique and making me enjoy football training when I was starting out.

“I think it will be a fantastic opportunity for any young player who is serious about really wanting to become a professional footballer.”