FOOTBALL: Back to school for the Bluebirds
CHIPPENHAM Town, Abbeyfield School and the Stanley Park sports ground have teamed up to create a new football study programme for youngsters in the town.
The new Sports Development Programme, which begins in September, will offer Abbeyfield sixth formers the chance to complete further education qualifications while discovering everything that the world of football has to offer.
Boys and girls will train twice a week at Stanley Park under a UEFA ‘B’ qualified coach and also pursue additional qualifications in FA Level One coaching, IOG (Institute of Groundcare) awards, refereeing and first aid.
Abbeyfield’s assistant headteacher Mark Fuller said: “We’ve got a number of students who say to us every year ‘we really want to stay on and do A-levels but we want to carry on developing our sports performance as well’.
“We want to offer something that allowed students to develop academically but also give them a broad entry into a career in a sport.”
Headteacher David Nicholson said: “They can stay at school where they know their teachers. They don’t have to be a top-class footballer and they could follow a career that could lead into things like sports science, physiotherapy or sports marketing.”
Youngsters will be expected to play for a local youth side but could also feature for an Abbeyfield Sports Development squad.
Stanley Park manager Pete Hussey said: “The drop-out rate for 15 to 18-year-olds in football is huge and sometimes if you get to that age and don’t make it, they feel that it’s done and dusted.
“This programme is set up primarily to show that there’s more that you can do in football than just play.”
Chippenham Town are hoping that their involvement will help to improve the pathway for youngsters to play football in the town.
“What we’re doing is providing an outlet for the community so that youngsters can progress to their ultimate capability and that’s something that’s been missing in the town for quite some time,” said Barry Stephens, Town’s community development co-ordinator.
Vice-chairman Neil Blackmore said: “We’ve got this pathway for youngsters from the area to play right through from under eights to senior football. It’s good for the community and it’s good for the town.”