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Reds in the Community Education Officer Mark Crossfield has described the Shadow Scholarship programme as a ‘unique opportunity’ for the young players.
Crossfield leads the existing education courses for young adults who study with the Reds for a level one, two or three qualification.
He has also been key in the running of the current education teams, who will continue to compete in friendly leagues against community trusts and other local teams.
There are a number of exit routes from the Shadow Scholarship, both in a sporting and academic environment.
Crossfield is a big advocate of the programme and says that players will benefit from the scheme, regardless of if they progress into professional football or not.
He said: “It’s a real unique opportunity, to gain sports qualifications and also take part in a very well structured football training programme. Ultimately we are here to develop better young people, give them better qualifications, better opportunities of getting a career in sport, making them better footballers but also making them better people.
“One of the goals of the programme is to try and help players make that step to become a professional footballer. The likelihood of that happening for an entire squad is quite slim so the education element is huge. We’re very much looking at developing young people to have a career in the sports industry, whether that’s higher education when the study programme has finished or straight into immediate employment.”
The Shadow Scholarship squad will be competing in the U19 National Football Youth League against similar schemes at other professional clubs whilst also having the chance for glory in a national cup.
Crossfield gave an insight into the league structure and spoke about the work experience opportunities also able at RitC.
He said: “The league consists of professional football clubs and their trusts nationally. All the way from the North of England to Portsmouth, there’s a series of leagues which are regionalised. We’ll fall into the Northern section and hopefully be competitive in that.
“There will also be practical elements like sports coaching and practical sport, which will also be linked with industry experience. That’s the other side of Reds in the Community. We have community coaches going out into primary schools and working with people of all ages across the borough of Barnsley. Our students will be able to get work experience from primary schools to helping run walking football sessions.”
For more information on the Shadow Scholarship programme, please click here: http://bit.ly/ShadowScholarship