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Trials for the Maidstone United Football Academy take place next month.
First team manager Jay Saunders and academy head coach Jack Parkinson will put trialists through their paces on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 February at the Gallagher Stadium.
Successful players will start a two-year course with the club from September – studying for a BTEC National Diploma in Sport (Level 3), training daily and playing in prestigious competitions such as the Football Conference Youth Alliance and FA Youth Cup.
Chief executive Bill Williams said: “Our academy is going from strength to strength and bridging that gap between youth football and the first team. It is an ideal opportunity for school-leavers, who are serious about a career in sport, to continue their studies while playing and training at one of the best venues in the county.”
The academy is providing a springboard into the first team, especially with Saunders coaching the students full time. Twelve players have lined up for the Stones this season, two of them regularly. The majority of the club’s under 21 squad are from the academy too.
Saunders said: “As a manager it’s great for me to have young players coming through and now that I am coaching at the academy I get to see and develop that talent. It’s also good to have that first-hand knowledge of the lads and the dozen I’ve brought through to the first team have always done well. We’ve had some strong applicants for this September and I am looking forward to seeing what they’ve got to offer at next month’s trials.”
One of the first team regulars is Charley Robertson. He said: “The academy has been really good for me and it’s given me the opportunity to break into the first team. To be playing Ryman Premier football at 17 is a great experience, especially at a club like Maidstone.”
The course, which is provided in association with Mid Kent College, also offers a range of vocational qualifications including Football Association coaching badges (Levels 1 and 2), first aid and refereeing awards.
At the end of the two years students have a range of options open to them from university to a career in the sports or leisure industry.
Maidstone United Football Academy is for students in school years 12 and 13. For more information, log on to www.maidstoneunited.co.uk/academy.
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