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(L to R back row) Steve Jones (suit) Billy Arnette, Harry Doyle, Louis Collins, Kai Martin, Charlie Scott, Mason Gill, Lewis Marr; (L to R front row) Sean Godinho, Billy Harland, Declan Bowes, Gareth Basham, Cameron Simpson, Tommy Mackie

Academy celebrates footballing talent at national level

North Shore Academy has made it through to the semi-finals of the English Schools' Football Association Cup

Posted by Hannah Vickers | February 14, 2017 | Sports & leisure

North Shore Academy in Stockton, which is part of the Northern Education Trust, is celebrating the successful progression of its under-15 team through to the semi-finals of the English Schools’ Football Association Cup.

The team recently played Stretford Grammar School at a match in Manchester and will be facing Ellesmere Port High School next in the semi-finals this coming weekend.

The lads have been playing together as a team since September and although the academy has fielded an under-15 side for many years, they have never reached this stage in the competition.

Their success to date has been forged with the help of ‘Footsmart’, which is an initiative developed to offer an alternative route to education for those who are in danger of becoming disengaged. 

This is the first time that Footsmart has been implemented at secondary level, so North Shore Academy is a pilot which makes the team’s success all the more exciting, in the opinion of vice principal Michael Burns, who decided to get the team up and running.

“These are great lads and it is really satisfying to see them doing so well. If they make the finals, it will mean they are one of the two best under-15 teams in England, which is great news – not just for the school but for the community as a whole. It really lifts aspiration and creates a sense of pride in the neighbourhood,” he said.

“So far, they have played teams from Carlisle, Yorkshire, Manchester and Newcastle and they have impressed the professional coaches coming in too. There have been scouts from Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Sunderland watching all the games. This has resulted in one player, Kai Martin, being given a six-week trial at Hartlepool while Charlie Tinkler and Gareth Basham have been given the opportunity to try out at Middlesbrough. They couldn’t wish for more.

The idea behind Footsmart is to provide an alternative to mainstream education and to build discipline and self-esteem with the students – they have achieved that and more besides - Michael Burns, Vice Principle of North Shore Academy

“The help we have had from Footsmart has been outstanding and I doubt we could have made the semis without them. The idea behind Footsmart is to provide an alternative to mainstream education and to build discipline and self-esteem with the students – they have achieved that and more besides.

“With Footsmart, they get curriculum time dedicated to football each week and work with UEFA qualified coaches, including Lewis Marr from Middlesbrough Football Club’s Academy.  

“Our sponsor, Northern Education Trust has also been a great help, supplying training kits and track suits for the team which the lads are thrilled with. It is the first time for many that they feel their contribution counts because they have a part to play in something really important,” he added.

They are much happier at school, re-engaging with their learning, they feel confident speaking to teaching staff and new people and are actively acting as role models for students lower down the school who really look up to them now because of their exemplary behaviour - Ian Lane, Director of secondary education for Northern Education Trust

Ian Lane, Director of secondary education for Northern Education Trust, said:

“What is amazing to see is the change in these students with this shared goal of winning the national cup. As they achieve success, you can see them changing as individuals, which, as a teacher, is probably one of the most rewarding aspects of this journey to the semi-finals. They are much happier at school, re-engaging with their learning, they feel confident speaking to teaching staff and new people and are actively acting as role models for students lower down the school who really look up to them now because of their exemplary behaviour.

“They travel to Liverpool for their game on Saturday with the support and good wishes of all the staff, pupils, governors and trustees and if they make the finals, who knows what the future may hold for them.

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