Wednesday, February 03, 2010

College to offer rising stars a sporting chance

Source: The Bolton News

10:30am Wednesday 3rd February 2010

ASPIRING young sportsmen whose hopes of joining professional clubs have been dented, could still realise their dreams of playing at a high standard, thanks to a new initiative at Bolton Sixth Form College.

When the college’s new town centre campus opens in September, three sporting academies — boys football, girls football and cricket — will be run in conjunction with standard A-level and BTEC Diploma courses.

The new academies are designed to offer 16 to 18-year-olds a high level of academic tuition with the addition of quality coaching in their chosen sport and a high standard of competition in national leagues.

The college’s website claims the new academies will offer students “a fantastic opportunity to excel in sports where they already have a high level skill.”

The boys’ football academy, in particular, will give late developers and talented youngsters who have failed to secure places at professional clubs a chance to make the grade, while continuing their academic education.

A partnership has already been established with ambitious UniBond League club FC United of Manchester and local NW Counties League club Daisy Hill, who will host their home games in the Youth Football Conference at their New Sirs ground.

The girls’ football academy, which has already attracted 18 applications, will play in the British Colleges leagues.

The cricket academy, which has had its plans approved by the Lancashire Cricket Board, has forged links with clubs in the Bolton League and Bolton Association and aims to play its games on various local grounds.

Alan Tomlinson, who is developing the cricket programme and has not ruled out establishing a girls’ cricket academy, said: “We’ve met with the League and Association and the clubs were very positive towards the development of the academy.”

Craig Thomas, co-ordinator of the college’s football academy and part-time manager of Daisy Hill, says the football element of the new courses could even put talented young players back in the shop window.

“This is not about coming to the college just to play football or cricket, it’s about gaining a good education,” he explained.

“But students who gain places on the academies will be offered coaching to a very high level — with sessions on skill development, fitness, diet and video analysis — opportunities to gain coaching qualifications and, as far as football is concerned, will be playing at probably the best level available outside the professional game.

“The league they will play in — the Youth Football Conference — will put them up against academy teams from high grade clubs such as Burton Albion, Stalybridge Celtic and Farsley Celtic and is well-scouted by professional clubs.

“Bolton is a hotbed of football and cricket and the academies will be offering the best opportunity to get a really good education with a high quality of sport tuition on top.

“Students will come out with A-level qualifications or a BTec Diploma with their sporting talent and education developed to a high standard. The progression route could then be university football or American scholarships.”

Bolton Sixth Form College will hold its open evening on March 2 and trials for the football academy will be run in March and April.

Students requiring application forms for the academies can contact the sports department on 01204 486629 or email

Details of all courses on offer are available on the college’s website