Following the successful launch and ongoing progress of the club’s Academy (16-19s) in season 2017-18, we were delighted to extend our player development pathway by introducing a Futures Academy (11-16s) in August 2018.

The Futures Academy is spearheaded by South Shields Football Club and Mortimer Community College – a partnership that offers talented young footballers from age 11 a comprehensive five-year ‘football in education’ experience. The new Academy kicked off off in August 2018, initially operating with an Under-12 squad (Year 7) in the 2018-19 season. Thereafter, we are introducing a new age group every academic year until every age group from U12-U16 (Year 7 – Year 11) is represented in season 2022-23. In 2020 we are introducing a girls-specific programme to ensure our offering is fully representative of our community and to ensure our provision aligns to recent research in female player development showing that the majority of girls aged 11-16 would prefer to play and learn separate from boys. It is important to add here that mixed playing and learning opportunities are available for players who aspire to have this experience.

The programme is led by a team of highly experienced coaches, teachers and support staff with a long-term commitment to support each student’s combined football and academic development all the way through to the end of their Year 11 studies.

Each week, our Futures Academy students receive up to 10 hours of professional coaching delivered by a team of locally-renowned Academy coaches employed full-time by the football club. A detailed overview of football-specific activity and timetable examples is available to interested players.

The educational aspect of the programme is absolutely central to achieving success. The broad and balanced curriculum at Mortimer Community College has a strong focus on the core subjects of English, maths and science, which we believe are the foundations for success across the full curriculum. Students on the programme also study history, geography, Spanish and RE. These academic subjects are supported by a range of creative and technical subjects, including design technology, computing and PE. Additional creative subjects such as art, music and drama are also available through our flexible curriculum offering.

This programme is inspired by the Academy vision: Together towards a brighter future. The vision is underpinned by a joint commitment from club and school to build learning environments that will enable youngsters to become the very best they can be.

Every student involved has access to a dedicated team of staff providing bespoke support to help them recognise and fulfill their academic and sporting potential. The Futures Academy is led by full-time staff who aim to construct the best possible platform for promising local players to reach their potential and progress through the Academy pathway towards the South Shields FC first-team, or even progress to a higher level of performance.

South Shields FC Academy is the perfect environment for ambitious young players to develop their skills.

Involvement in this programme will support any existing or future involvement at a professional football club Academy (i.e. Newcastle United, Sunderland AFC or Middlesbrough). Our staff are passionate about helping young people be the best they can be and our commitment to support players on an individual basis will ensure that the needs of any player participating within an ‘elite player performance programme’ (EPPP) are fully met, challenged and ideally accelerated.

We work closely with other clubs and organisations to ensure that all decisions made by South Shields FC and Mortimer Community College are in the very best interest of the child.

A key motivation of ours is to make every school day the #BestSchoolDayEver and we try to capture these experiences on a regular basis on our @SSFCacademy Twitter and Instagram social media platforms. Towards the end of the 2018-19 season we compiled a short video to share with others the fun we have as a partnership.

To find out more about the programme and/or to enquire about trial opportunities, please email academy@southshieldsfc.co.uk.

Supporting quotes

South Shields FC Chairman Geoff Thompson: “The launch of this initiative and partnership with Mortimer Community College was another important step in progressing our football club as an integral part of the South Tyneside community. We are determined to continue our momentum and to make sure the club is well positioned for success in all of our various activities.”

Mortimer Community College Headteacher Simon Hignett: “The club is very much part of the South Shields community and this completely aligns with our standing as a school. This is a fantastic opportunity and we look forward to working with the club as they are very much a team on the march!”

South Shields FC Head of Youth Performance and Development Jamie Williams“The partnership with Mortimer Community College is further evidence of the club’s ongoing ambition and commitment to shape our future in the present, taking every opportunity to be better today than we were yesterday. Because we are at the beginning of our exciting journey we have an opportunity to think a little differently about the developmental opportunities we provide for young people in the North East. The traditional notion that coaching young talented players is exclusively about readying them to become professional players is not enough for us – both school and club believe in readying the individual as a learner, athlete and person. It’s a rounded, holistic approach that is about equipping young people with a blend of life skills and qualities that will prepare them for the uncertainty of the future, whether they go on to pursue a professional sporting career or to forge entirely different career paths.”