South Elmsall Football League star to launch academy

John McCombe.
John McCombe.

South Elmsall professional footballer John McCombe is joining with current York City team-mate David McGurk in a bid to develop football stars of the future at a new academy that launches next month.

Pro Player is an independent football academy, based at Crofton Community Centre, that will provide professional coaching to talented players aged between seven and 16.

The invitation and trial-only academy aims to bridge the gap between professional academies and grassroots.

It has been jointly set up by 29-year-old McCombe, who began in the Huddersfield Town academy. He has played more than 250 games for Town, Hereford United, Port Vale, Mansfield Town and his current club, York, who he helped into the League Two play-offs this season along with Pro Player partner McGurk, who began at Darlington, but has been with the Minstermen for nine seasons.

McCombe believes that the academy offers a great chance for youngsters from all over the Wakefield and South Elmsall areas to develop their skills.

He said: “I’m from South Elmsall originally and I would have loved an opportunity like this when I was younger. There are no other coaching opportunities like this in the area and we feel we can help produce young local players who eventually move into professional football.

“Me and my brother Jamie, who plays for Doncaster Rovers, both played for South Elmsall Boys before signing for professional clubs. Jamie is also involved at Pro Player as he will be coaching.

“Pro Player is unique because the coaches are current and ex-professional footballers who are FA and UEFA qualified, CRB checked, fully insured and first aid certified.

“Many of our coaches also have academic qualifications in areas such as sports science or strength and conditioning.

“We feel this allows us to provide a high standard of coaching that is on a level with any professional football academy. In order to maintain this high level of coaching we have a maximum coach to player ratio.

“This allows each coach to work with a small group of players and ensures that the high standard of players in each age group is maintained.”

McCombe added: “In addition to the coaching programme, the academy will have regular games against professional academies, development squads and local junior teams.

“These games give players an opportunity to transfer the technical skills acquired through our technical coaching programme into a game situation.”

Trials for the academy are to be held for various age groups next month.

On Monday, June 16, under 8s trials will be held from 6pm to 7pm and under 9s trials from 7pm to 8pm. Under 10s trials are to take place from 6pm to 7pm on Wednesday, June 18 while under 11s trials run from 7pm to 8pm. On Monday, June 23 there will be under 12s trials between 6pm and 7pm while under 13s will follow from 7pm to 8pm.

More information on the Pro Player academy and how to arrange a trial can be found on their website at