Hemel Hempstead Town FC are hoping to unearth young footballing gems with the potential to go on and represent the Tudors first team as they hold their academy trials at the weekend.
The Tudors Community Education Programme, orchestrated by director of football Steve Boone, gives teenagers the chance to continue their studies while also experiencing life at a football club.
The two-year programme, which was launched last year, provides school leavers with youth team football under the guidance of Tudors first team manager Dean Brennan and members of the first team squad, as well as the chance to gain three A-Level qualifications.
The club works in partnership with an organisation that is fully qualified to deliver the syllabus, and the scheme has already begun to pay dividends, with academy youngsters Colm Parrott, Joe Findlay-Bada, Joe Fitzgerald, Michael Ogboro and Ben Johnson all being involved with the Hemel Town first team this season.
Tudors boss Brennan said: “Footballing-wise it is obviously a great opportunity because six or seven of the lads have been involved in the first team this year, and we are a club that relies on young players.
“That’s what is key; these lads will get an opportunity to play in our first team if they are prepared to work hard, and if they are prepared to complete their education – it’s vital for the kids to understand that.
“Our recent trip to Margate was one of the biggest games in the club’s history and we had three 16-year-olds on the bench. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for these lads, and if someone had picked up an injury they would have come on.
“To give six or seven lads the opportunity to get involved in the first team, in just the first year of this programme, is amazing. We were expecting that it would take at least five years before we had any lads coming through to the first team. Steve Boone has done a fantastic job.”
The youngsters will get the chance to learn from the senior players at the club, and Brennan says this is a big part in helping them to gain a footballing education.
“They are learning from the likes of Matty Spring and Ben Herd, who really lead by example in the way they look after themselves and prepare for games,” he said. “They are approachable to all the young kids and the learning curve that the lads get is unbelievable.
“They will have been watching Springy playing in the Premier League when they were young kids and now they are sitting beside him on a bus going away to a game somewhere and having a conversation with him. It just shows you that football is an amazing game.”
There are around 45 spaces available in the academy for first and second years, and Brennan added: “We are looking for young, hungry talented players who are looking to get continue their education first and foremost; after that the football side of things is a bonus.”
Trialists currently in Year 11 at school will play at Vauxhall at 11am on Saturday, with Year 12s taking to the pitch at 12.30pm. To register your interest, please email Steve Boone at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07956 400096.