Posted by SCL Education group on 15.02.18
A gleaming future lies ahead for Grantham Town as the high-flying Gingerbreads continue to show the skill and passion required to maintain their title push from Evo-Stik Premier.
However, it’s not just the first-team players who are pressing forward at pace. Since partnering with SCL Education Group in September 2016, the lads at Grantham Town Academy have gone from strength to strength, with a spot in this season’s SCL Development League to prove it.
Unique and experienced in progressing players through the youth teams, into the first team, and onto professional set-ups, Grantham Town strive to create and improve opportunities within football, helping to prevent 16-18 year olds from becoming NEET, and giving them an opportunity to channel their passion for sport.
The two-year education and development programme, delivered in partnership with SCL, provides aspiring players, coaches and referees with the knowledge, attitude and skill required to go pro.
The Academy programme boasts fantastic exit routes into higher education and employment, with learners going on to play professionally, secure jobs or enrol in apprenticeships and Higher Education programmes.
Academy Manager, Alex Watson, declares SCL Education Group to be “the only provider” for the club.
“It’s different to school. We found that most of our learners are kinaesthetic learners, and this course is very friendly towards them. There’s lots of learning by doing,” Watson tells The NLP.
“It’s a different take on academic life, it’s a different environment,” adds Academy Tutor, Leon McSweeney. “You’re treated maturely and you gain a lot of independence.”Ensuring the young players get an education while plying their trade is something which Grantham reinforces as SCL champions.
McSweeney keeps his lads disciplined and incentivised by rewarding classroom behaviour with on-pitch opportunities. “If they don’t hand in their work, or if they fall behind on attendance, they don’t get to play football,” he explains.
Appealing to youngsters of all backgrounds, the Football Academy programme has transformed the lives of many.
When one lad was taken out of school with no qualifications, amid concerns from his mother that he’d end up in prison, Grantham Town took a chance on the troubled teen, enrolling him on the Academy programme.
“The different style of learning suited him extremely well, and he’s now settled and succeeding,” explains SCL Regional Manager, Ian Cooper.
“We have two lads constantly involved in the first team, and we’ve had other players included in match day squads, so the progression is there,” Watson boasts.
“If they play consistently, train well and show a good attitude, then they’re given the experience of travelling with the first team, sitting on the bench and maybe making an appearance.
“There’s a lot of positivity, and once the lads see other guys doing it, that pushes them to try and achieve the same.
“It’s all about fulfilling their potential,” Watson continues.
Academy Tutor, McSweeney, adds: “When students come to us and see the programme that we’re offering with SCL, and hear how other players have progressed into the first team, they see the programme as a pathway.”
With such a great response to the Academy so far, it’s no surprise that Alex and the club are already looking ahead to bring their lads new opportunities in partnership with SCL.
“There’s so much more that we’re part of than just football and education. You’ve got the next step in their career. It’s about looking after their future pathway,” adds McSweeney.
Steve Franks, Managing Director, Education and Training at SCL Education Group tells The NLP: “The support we have received from Grantham Town has been phenomenal and SCL’s partnership with them has enabled us to run a first class Academy.
“SCL and Grantham share the same ethos of helping educate 16-18 year olds who might otherwise not have had the opportunity to follow their passion with a career in sports.
“We are very excited about the future and working closely with Alex and the Grantham team.”
But it’s not just about personal development for the lads at Grantham Town. The club recently kicked off its disability football team, as scholars swap their lunch hour for coaching a group of adult disabled footballers.
On his team’s inspiring attitude, Watson concludes: “It’s not essential, it’s voluntary, but they’re all keen to get involved and most lunch hours they’ll play a game against them. The scholars cheer on the adults, they love it, and it’s really inspiring for them.
“We strive to achieve excellence in everything we do.”
To find out more about Grantham Town’s programme in partnership with SCL, or if you know someone aged 16-18 years old who would like to apply, visit http://wearescl.co.uk/grantham-fc
The Sports Academy study programme for young adults combines full-time education with sporting excellence and is delivered in partnership with Professional and amateur clubs.
By Hannah Cameron