Kick-off for Maidstone academy

By Peter Butcher

MAIDSTONE'S newest college campus has opened - offering 50 young people studies and sport at a state-of-the-art venue: Maidstone United's £2.6m Gallagtger Stadium.

The stadium boasts three classrooms for learning and a 3G pitch for sports coaching all year round.

The club has teamed up with MidKent College, one of the leading providers of post-16 education in the county, to set up the academy. Players will spend five days a week at the stadium for the next two years, studying for a BTEC Level 3 in Sport and a range of vocational football-related qualifications, while learning more about the game, training to play and competing in three leagues.

The first fixtures will begin next following week as teams begin to compete in the Conference Reserves League (national), the English Colleges League (regional) and the Kent Students Sports Association League (local).

Jacqui Brown, head of Business Services at the college, said: "We are really excited to be working in partnership with the club on this venture. The resources and facilities at the club, combined with our track record of success in the 16+ sector, means that the young people on the programme will have an excellent opportunity to make progress in their career."

Terry Casey, co-owner of Maidstone United, said: "This is a wonderful moment for the club whose celebrated return to the town after 25 years has shown that there is an appetite locally for semi-professional football. Working with MidKent College means that we can continue our outreach work, make an even bigger contribution to the community and also provide young players with a unique learning experience from which they will undoubtedly benefit."

Some academy students may go on to careers in football, or to work in the football industry. Most will gain employment in the health and leisure sector and some will go on to study sports leadership, science or management at university level.

Students currently in Year 11 can apply to join the 2013/14 academy season from next month. Applicants will be expected to have four A* to C GCSE qualifications and successfully complete a football trial to be held in February 2013.

An opportunity has arisen for a limited number to join the 2012/13 programme. For budding footballers who left school in July and have yet to take up an education, employment or training opportunity, telephone 07970 424184 or email education@maidstoneunited.co.uk as soon as possible.

For more information about the Maidstone United Academy, log on to www.maidstoneunited.co.uk/academy and for Mid Kent College the address is www.midkent.ac.uk

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