Combining educational and football development for young people
Ashford United has announced its plans to roll out a full-time educational
and football development academy for 16-19-year olds, with the first cohort of students due to start in September 2020.
The initiative – spearheaded by Ashford United’s manager Tommy Warrilow and first-team coach Louis Dean – represents an exciting opportunity for young footballers to pursue their dreams to become a professional player without compromising their education.
The two-year course, which ultimately will lead to a BTEC Level 3 Coaching in Sport and Physical Activity ensures that the young students leave the academy with a recognised football coaching qualification and a clear pathway to securing work in the sport, even if their aspirations to become a full-time player are not realised.
From a club perspective, the academy provides Ashford United with a natural opportunity to ‘grow’ its own players and ultimately to establish a rolling programme that regularly delivers fresh and emerging talent for the club. It is also hoped that the scheme will encourage a stronger rapport with residents in and around Ashford, positioning Ashford United as an important pillar of the local community.
Students wishing to enrol at the academy – which will be based at the Homelands Stadium – will need to take part in a trial and ideally will already possess five A*-C GSCEs including English and Maths. However, students without these qualifications who are interested in joining the academy can sit an additional foundation year ahead of joining the formal course. The comprehensive programme will offer students unrivalled football training, led by experienced former player Tommy Warrilow whose career has included spells at Millwall and Torquay, as well as playing overseas in Australia and Finland and serving as chief talent scout for National League team Ebbsfleet United. Louis Dean, a UEFA A licensed coach whose expertise includes the roll-out of a similar initiative for Charlton Athletic over a six-year period, will work alongside Warrilow.
Commenting on the exciting news, Tommy Warrilow said, “The launch of the academy is something that we’ve been working on since December 2018 and it is a project that is very close to my heart. So many young footballers aspire to play professionally but the reality is that only a small percentage actually make the ‘big time’. This programme provides young people with access to all the best coaching and training facilities so that they can improve their game and at the very least, realise their goal of playing for a local club on a part-time basis. For the truly gifted and talented players, it will deliver a direct fast-track into playing for Ashford United but regardless of their success on the field, the students will be continuing their education and will leave the academy with a national qualification that will help them secure gainful employment in the coaching industry. We will be making a concerted effort to offer coaching opportunities within our own club as well as guiding students to find coaching posts at other clubs via our established network of contacts. Our pupils will get to watch the first team play on a regular basis, and this in itself is an important part of their footballing education. We want to bring out the best in each and every student so that they fulfil their true potential both on and off the pitch, so a key element of the programme will also centre around equipping them with important life skills. While there are other academies out there, ours will be unique in that the first team manager – i.e. myself – will be directly involved in the programme from day one and I hope that in years to come, we will see some of our top players coming into the first team via the academy.”
Ashford United Owner, Don Crosbie commented, “Ashford United is delighted to be joining forces with Tommy Warrilow who is launching his own academy. There are many talented footballers and sporting young people in the local area who until now, would have had to travel to other parts of the county to access an educational sporting and football academy. We are looking forward to providing a first-rate academy facility here in Ashford, which, unlike many other academies, will actually be led by the first team club manager.”
While the academy is currently open to young men aged 16-19, Warrilow’s vision for the club includes a similar future programme for young female footballers.
For further details about the academy and dates for trials, visit the AUFC website, https://www.ashfordunitedfc.com
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<Press Release distributed by Fox Red Media on 17 Feb 2020>