An exciting football development programme spearheaded by Mortimer Community College and South Shields Football Club is ready for kick-off at the start of next season.
The partnership will see the club’s Academy revolutionise its current development pathway and offer talented young footballers from age 11 (current Year 6) a comprehensive five-year ‘elite football in education’ experience.
The programme, based at Mortimer Community College in South Shields, will start in September, initially with 20 hand-picked youngsters who are currently in Year 6.
It will be led by an experienced team of coaches, teachers and support staff with a long-term commitment to support each player’s development all the way through to the end of their Year 11 studies.
The ‘player-learners’ will enjoy tailored football development meshed seamlessly with their chosen academic studies.
The carefully-designed programme includes a daily training schedule interspersed with frequent opportunities to play against established football clubs and talent groups, with various elements staged at Mariners Park by the host club.
The programme is inspired by the Academy vision together towards a brighter future, underpinned by a joint commitment from club and school to build learning environments that will enable youngsters to become the best they can be.
Every student involved will have access to a dedicated team of staff providing bespoke support to help them recognise and fulfil their academic and sporting potential.
This team will be led by Jamie Williams and Wess Brown, two locally renowned coaches with extensive knowledge and experience of working with young players within professional football academy settings, grassroots clubs and in education.
The pair, who work full-time for the football club, will lead the new Academy (11-16) at Mortimer Community College, alongside their colleagues Lee Picton and Graham Fenton, who are responsible for the leadership of the Academy (16-19) that operates in conjunction with Sunderland College.
Together they aim to construct the best possible platform for promising local players to reach their potential, and progress towards the South Shields FC first-team, or even progress to a higher level of performance.
Jamie Williams, Head of Youth Performance and Development at South Shields FC, said: “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 elite professionals 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.”
Club chairman Geoff Thompson has expressed his excitement for the new partnership.
He said: “The launch of this initiative and partnership with Mortimer Community College is 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 said: “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!”
A recruitment programme is in place to prepare for the September launch, presenting young players from across the North East with an opportunity to demonstrate their enthusiasm to get involved and a chance to showcase their potential.
Their families too can discover more about the academy programme and how South Shields FC and Mortimer Community College will work together to ensure the educational needs of every individual are appropriately met and the highest standards maintained.
Regular updates on the academy will feature on the club’s website. Anyone interested in finding out more about the programme can access the content via www.southshieldsfc.co.uk.