Quartet graduate before big match

By David Watters

The Northern Premier League Football Academy's stars are getting ready to test themselves against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday after four more players graduated to first team football in the last week alone!

Students representing Belper Town, Leek Town, Mickleover Sports, Ossett Albion, Radcliffe, Warrington Town and Witton Albion are looking forward to running out against their counterparts from the Latics after their kit for the NPLFA’s 2018 Inter-League fixture was unveiled on Monday, pictured.

Since Tom Hutchinson became the first NPLFA student from Carlton Town to graduate a week ago in EVO-STIK League South at Frickley Athletic and the NPLFA’s 31st overall, Leek Town’s Jessy Bavanganga has become number 32 with two more Millers at 33 and 34, 16-year-old first year students Joe Sheekey and Josh Harris after they played at Gresley last Thursday night.

Matlock Town’s Billy Whitehead rounded off what an NPLFA spokesman called a “fantastic week” for the ground-breaking academy on Saturday in the EVO-STIK League’s top flight when he turned out for the Gladiators in their 2-0 home win over Workington.

Taking place at the Christopher Park training facility of the former NPL champions and the competition's most successful graduates, Athletic's U18s will be managed in the behind closed doors fixture by former Warrington Town Academy coach Nick Chadwick. Chadwick was in charge of the NPLFA’s inaugural inter-league game against Oldham Athletic back in 2016.

The NPLFA was founded with the backing of the Football Association at five pilot clubs in September 2014 to provide career pathways into the football industry with youngsters studying on two year BTEC courses.

Still the only league-wide academy in English football combining sport with education and now expanded to 12 members clubs, the NPLFA welcomed its fourth intake of students this season while launching a new higher education partnership with Loughborough University so students could continue their studies to degree level within the Northern Premier League.

For more details and information on the NPLFA and its educational and football education programme, visit www.nplfa.co.uk or contact the academy at info@nplfa.co.uk.

To read the full of graduates, including to the pro game, click here: nplfa.co.uk/graduates

For further details and information on the football education programme, visit www.nplfa.co.uk or contact them at info@nplfa.co.uk.

Images courtesy of nplfa.co.uk & @Matlock_TownFC/Twitter

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