Exciting new plans have been revealed to create a new academy in Haverhill that combines football and education.
The Haverhill Rovers FC Academy is to launch in September and will offer 16-18-year-olds the opportunity to hone their football skills and knowledge while also studying for BTEC Level 2 and 3 National Diplomas in Sport - delivered by a qualified tutor and accessed by the students via their own online portal.
Students will also be able to re-sit GCSEs, take level one refereeing and football coaching courses and receive guidance in applying for university or finding work in sport.
Classes will be based at The New Croft and all students will play football most days of the week as part of Rovers’ academy team, being based at the 3G facility and managed by Dan Pilcher, an (Uefa B) level 3 coach and Marc Abbott, an FA qualified first team player/coach at Rovers.
Dan himself came through a similar academy scheme run by the club a few years earlier - while the Samuel Ward Football Academy also ran for a few seasons, only to close in 2016 - and he is well aware of the need in the Haverhill area for a football academy and the benefits it will bring to Rovers and the students.
He said: “We’ve got the luxury now of offering the positives of training every day on a great facility and offering a course that signposts people to university and jobs in the sports industry.
“However, the added positives we’ve got is that it’s solely run by Haverhill Rovers FC which means it offers the players a pathway all the way from the youth team to the first team and it just feeds in to the Haverhill Rovers’ strategic vision.”
Marc is a graduate of the Cambridge City FC Academy, but both he and Dan now want to attract young players that would otherwise be faced with travelling out of the area to pursue football academy aspirations with the likes of AFC Sudbury, West Suffolk College and Cambridge Regional College.
Dan said: “There’s absolutely no reason why a town like Haverhill cannot sustain a really positive programme that offers just as much opportunity as anyone else.”
Marc added: “We’ve spoken to people who were potentially going to travel to a Norwich City development academy which is based in Ely.
“As soon as me and Dan met with a few of them its opened their eyes to it, meaning not having to travel, and thinking this is local.”
The hope is to launch the academy with a minimum of 15 students, enough for a football team, although 20 would be a preferred number.
As for funding, Dan said: “This programme has it’s own business plan. You work with an educational provider who helps with the paperwork and administration and they then draw down the funding for us to split through the business plan and pay through the right avenues.”