Hemel Town FC are holding their latest academy opening evening on Thursday as they continue their search for hungry local talent.
The Tudors Community Education Programme, orchestrated by director of football Steve Boone, gives teenagers the chance to continue their studies while also experiencing life at a football club.
The two-year programme, which was launched last year, provides Year 11 school leavers with youth team football under the guidance of Tudors first team manager Dean Brennan and members of the first team squad, as well as the chance to gain three A-Level qualifications.
The club works in partnership with an organisation that is fully qualified to deliver the syllabus, and the scheme has already begun to pay dividends, with five academy youngsters – Colm Parrott, Joe Findlay-Bada, Joe Fitzgerald, Michael Ogboro and Ben Johnson – making their debuts for the Hemel Town first team this season.
“The academy is massive to the structure of the football club,” said Tudors boss Brennan. “It’s the way that we need to go because we need to produce our own players.
“Hemel Hempstead is a big town and we need to make sure we are producing players from the town. It’s something we have done quite well at in the past, but the structure is now much better.
I’m prepared to give these lads a chance, its just up to the lads to come and show to us what they can do.Hemel Town FC manager Dean Brennan
“The education programme is essential and Steve Boone has done an excellent job in getting it set up. We have had a good first year and we are hoping to at least double our intake next year – that’s what we are striving to do.
“We gave five lads their first team debuts this year, which not a lot of clubs will have done. It just shows that if you have got half a bit of ability about you, and have a good attitude, then you will get an opportunity at our football club.
“I’m prepared to give these lads a chance, its just up to the lads to come and show to us what they can do. The opportunity is there for them.
“I know one thing for sure – the education course is excellent and the programme itself is exceptional so we have just got to make sure that we keep progressing it.”
Boone, the driving force behind the programme, added: “In September last year, 18 local lads entered into a two-year Football & Education programme, which offers an opportunity for achievement of three A-Levels, an insight into sports and leisure skills and potential future employment in the industry, along with full-time training by our first team staff.
“The fact that four 16-year-olds have already made their competitive first team debuts says much about the success of the programme to date, the commitments made by the first team management and the chairman.
“While they are here, the lads learn about not just playing football and training with Dean and the squad, but also what it is like to be in and around a football club every day. It’s a taste of real-life.
“It’s a part of the programme than the government are keen on; that kids not only develop academically, but also that they learn social skills.”
The opening evening will be held on Thursday at 8pm in the main hall at Vauxhall Road, for potential candidates to learn more about the programme. Applications will be considered from Year 11 students who are leaving school in May this year. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07956 400096.
Boone added: “The only thing we ask is that a parent/guardian/adult accompany any lads, as their education is important. We want parents to be involved and to understand the opportunities we are offering in terms of both studies and football.”