All Saints’ Academy in Cheltenham have expanded their partnership with Cheltenham Town to provide opportunities to youngsters within the town and wider community.
The school have had an active partnership with the club for the last four years and provide the education side for the BTEC Qualifications under Cheltenham’s Scholarship and Development schemes for young players.
Now they have agreed to open up school facilities including the all-weather 3g pitches to Cheltenham Town for their youth sides to help develop the next generation of talent.
Severn Sport spoke to Principal Dermot McNiffe about the partnership and how important providing the opportunities to children and young, budding footballers is especially during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“For me it’s simple, we are a Cheltenham school serving Cheltenham as a town and also a football club,” said McNiffe.
“We have already had success in the first four years by seeing two of our students passing through into the first team including Tom Chamberlain.
Tom did his GCSE’s with us and moved into the Sixth Form where he did his apprenticeship and he went on to make his debut in a cup game I believe last season.
The point of the partnership is to allow students who have a talent for football to develop their skills whilst being able to study and do their A-Levels at All Saints.
You hear stories of young players with talent at bigger clubs and they don’t make it and then it’s a case of what now?
And that is where we are different. I am a believer of having talent and looking to develop that, but to have a plan b and having something academically to develop a career if football doesn’t turn out for them,” added McNiffe.
Manchester United fan McNiffe spoke to us with great pride about how excited he is for the new partnership with Cheltenham Town and what he is hoping to achieve with the new partnership.
“The profile of Girl’s and Women’s football is developing and growing over the world, so I was keen to help potential players from not only our school but the wider community, by giving them opportunities.
We are one of the key schools on the Cheltenham Education Partnership, which is something we are very proud of, so to now be able to help potential players an opportunity that will hopefully lead to a full time career in football is great,” said McNiffe.
Tasha Newstead, the Academy’s PR & Communications Manager, will be liaising with the club over the coming weeks to develop advertising and marketing within the community to showcase the opportunities provided.
“Everyone is so positive and excited by what is already a great partnership and we are very hopeful that both the academy and the club will benefit from what we are doing,” Newstead said.
With the partnership now expanded and agreed, McNiffe believes that by having accessible opportunities in all walks of life will benefit students in Cheltenham and the surrounding areas.
“Opportunities are very important. This is because depending on circumstances young people may not necessarily have access to a lot of things, but one thing everyone has access to is their school.
So if a school provides opportunities in areas like football, or music, or the arts and so on, then young people will benefit from that.
We believe in providing access to a breadth of opportunity, especially with the football links with Cheltenham Town, where young people may find it harder to gain access outside of this environment – which is very important to us.” McNiffe added.
Photos provided by All Saints’ Academy