Minsthorpe football academy makes the grade

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MINSTHORPE Community College is celebrating a successful first year for its football academy, writes Nick Rigg.

The academy launched at the start of the current academic year and has “exceeded expectations” according to director Martin Stringfellow.

Stringfellow, alongside fellow coach John Stanhope, has seen his 16-man squad finish second in their division of the British College Football League in only their first year in the competition.

He’s also helped students on the ladder of coaching and refereeing qualifications thanks to ten hours’ work per week out on the football pitch.

And he’s been delighted at how the academy has succeeded in its first year.

“We’ve exceeded all expectations, it’s been fantastic,” said Stringfellow.

“The philosophy of the academy is all about the development of the student, not just out on the pitch but in other areas of football such as coaching and refereeing and that’s all gone really well in the first year.

“It’s not all about the results out on the pitch but obviously it’s nice to get good results, we go out there looking to win every game so to finish our first season in the league in second is a great achievement for the lads.”

As well as competing in the British College Football League, the academy has helped all of its students to achieve their Level 1 Coaching certificate over the course of the year.

Students have helped Stringfellow with a number of football camps over the course of the academic year and a select few will go on to try for their Level 2 Coaching certificate next term.

A referee’s course has also been run in conjunction with training and coaching and there’s been a good response from the students.

“We don’t just focus on playing,” said Stringfellow.

“It’s important that we focus on the development of the student in other areas of football too and that’s what we’re doing.

“Some lads have been more than happy to help me when I run football coaching camps and a few will go on to try for their Level 2 Coaching certificate next year.”

The academy devotes ten hours per week to students, including matches on a Wednesday and training sessions on Tuesday and Friday.

It was only launched at the start of the academic year in September and is fully funded by the college.

The academy was designed to keep talented young footballers at the college beyond the age of 16, rather than see them take their skills elsewhere.

It’s been a big success and Stringfellow is hoping that success heightens next year.

“We’re hoping it has a knock-on effect,” he said.

“We’re only in our first year and it’s been a great success. Now we’ll have more players coming through from Year 11 to complement the lads we already have in the squad.

“It’ll also give the younger lads something to aim for when they reach Year 12.”

The academy will be hoping to continue their success when they travel to London next month for a two-match tour.

And they could travel to Barcelona for an Easter tour next year with the college’s Yr 8 football squad.

The academy is currently holding trials for next year’s squad.

For more information on how to join contact Martin Stringfellow on 07816 612424.

See this week’s Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express for all the latest sports news from around the area.