Two young footballers are set to have their dreams come true when they represent their country as part of the English Schools Football Association squad.
Connor Short and Shahban Mohammed, both 17 from Hartlepool, will pull on the Three Lions shirt firstly against Australia at Lilleshall, the Football Association’s former headquarters before facing the Home Nations next month in the Centenary Shield.
The talented duo belong to Hartlepool College of Further Education’s Football Academy. Gaining places on the English Schools squad involved a thorough selection process, but the teenagers both showed the dedication, skill and hard work needed to be selected for the final squad.
Ian Clark, Head Coach at the Academy said: “Connor and Shahban are a dream to coach, very hard working, always listening and real team players.
“This is a fantastic achievement for these talented young footballers and one I know the boys and their families are extremely proud, as are all at the College.”
Connor, a former Dyke House pupil and current sports student, has also been selected to be part of the English Colleges squad, meaning he will represent his country on two fronts – and already he is making his mark.
He said: “In my first game for the English Colleges team we played against Chelsea FC and I managed to get myself on the scoresheet.
“It was a great experience and I can’t wait to see if I can top it.”
First year engineering student Shahban, formerly of English Martyrs School, was also keen to get out on the pitch and wear the iconic jersey.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to pulling on that shirt for the first time. I just can’t wait to get started.”
Hartlepool College of Further Education’s Football Academy is an innovative and highly successful scheme that allows student athletes from all over the college to combine their normal studies with high quality sports coaching.
Candidates can also work on their strength and conditioning via the college’s fully-equipped fitness centre, complete with cryospas and a sports lab.
Those who excel also get the chance to take part in regional and national competitions.
Football is only one of a number of sports the College supports with dedicated academies.
College Principal Darren Hankey added: “To succeed in sport takes focus, persistence and a willingness to keep trying no matter what, and these are all qualities that are also essential on our courses too.
“With this in mind it makes perfect sense to support students from across the College who have sporting as well as career ambitions, and give them a way to combine both.”
For more information on the College’s courses and sports academies contact Student Services on 01429 295000 or visit www.hartlepoolfe.ac.uk.