Thanks to a new higher education partnership with Loughborough College, the Northern Premier League Football Academy (NPLFA) is getting ready to offer full-time degree courses from September 2017.
As a result of the new partnership, youngsters currently studying with the NPLFA on BTEC courses or embarking on their courses in September will be able to continue their education while developing their football careers within the EVO-STIK NPL.
In a statement unveiling the new partnership on Tuesday, a delighted NPLFA vice-chairman Darren Royle said: "This is a major development around the creation of our U17, U19 and U23 league program that is facilitated through our first class education partners.
"Players can now join their NPL Football Academies at participating clubs at 16 and have a realistic prospect of both studying and playing full-time up to the age of 21. We are excited and look forward to developing the football pathway and degree programme with Loughborough College".
Chris Cockerton, head of Higher Education at Loughborough College, is now looking forward to building a "long and successful" partnership with NPLFA.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with NPLFA," said the academic. "Loughborough College’s full or part time Blended Learning Degree programmes are the perfect fit for the academy players wanting to continue their education whilst remaining committed to their sport and their clubs.
"This five year pathway allows players to complete a BTEC and a full BSc or BA Honours degree without having to leave their club or the intensity of training to be the best they can be in their sport. We are looking forward to a long and successful partnership with NPLFA and to creating fantastic opportunities for their players.”
Founded with the backing of the Football Association at five pilot clubs in September 2014 to provide career pathways into the football industry and still the only league wide academy in English football combining sport with education, the NPLFA is expanding to 13 clubs catering to more than 400 students for the 2017-18 season in September.
The NPLFA's tutors and coaches are currently recruiting their third intake of students at trials running since before Easter at all 12 NPLFA clubs for ambitious students either leaving school this summer or coming to the end of their first year in college.
Students and their families are also looking forward to rounding off the current season next month at the NPLFA's inaugural cup final at Stoke City's Bet365 Stadium on Sunday 28 May.
To see the NPLFA's latest promotional videos and success stories, follow on Twitter at @NPLFA or visit: www.nplfa.co.uk. For more information on the degree courses contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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