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Holbeach United Community Sports Academy team up with DC Sports Academy to offer new qualifications for 16-19-year-olds

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Young people will soon be able to sign up for an innovative new college that aims to let them complete their studies while being treated like a professional footballer.

DC Sports Academy business partners Dan Lester and Callum Lawe have teamed up with Holbeach United Community Sports Academy to offer new qualifications for the area’s 16-19-year-olds.

Courses will be delivered at the town’s Penny Hill Road facilities - combining academic lessons that lead towards BTEC level two and three qualifications with out and out football sessions covering the tactical, technical, physical and psychological side of the sport.

FLASHBACK: The opening of the sports centre with ex-England footballer Chris Sutton
FLASHBACK: The opening of the sports centre with ex-England footballer Chris Sutton

The courses are the first of their kind in the district and aim to create the same environment as professional club academies, on the doorstep for football-mad South Holland families.

Mr Lester, an experienced teacher who lives in Sutton Bridge, said: “With us they get an education, however it’s not a school or college feeling, they’re in a sports house and they are talking football all day every day.”

While the prospect of playing football full time while studying could be an attractive prospect to many, Mr Lester stressed that students will learn the same respect and discipline required by modern day professional clubs.

He said: “We are going to be very determined to make sure our scholars don’t feel they are being babied.

“We set our expectations high for everything from self presentation to their attitude to not just football but anything and everything.”

Mr Lester provides the educational background while Mr Lawe, based near Boston, is a UEFA B licensed coach.

The pair picked the location for their pioneering project so that they can build on Holbeach United’s strong existing grassroots offering - and believe they can establish a blueprint for others to follow.

Mr Lester said: “Holbeach is a sleeping giant - there’s so much there, especially with the facilities. It’s just fantastic.”

He added: “We are brand new but we are planning to be here to stay and set the standard for the local area, the county and, hopefully, nationwide.”

Lessons will run on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays - with matches to put the theory into practice every Wednesday.

There’s the potential for the scholars to face off against teams from the academies at Norwich City, Peterborough United, Doncaster Rovers or Lincoln City, with talks under way to line up connections with the clubs.

While scholars could get a pathway into the Holbeach United first team, there is also the chance to go on to study for a degree or work towards other sport and leisure related careers.

Youngsters will gain work experience and be able to run half time sports sessions for schoolchildren.

By the college’s third year, the aim is to offer a degree at the site too so that learners can complete their studies in Holbeach.

Seven youngsters have already signed up for the first open trial in December - with the first scholars due to begin courses in September 2022.

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