Sixty aspiring footballers, aged 16 to 18, will be given the chance to study and play at The Gallagher Stadium.
Working with Train Together, the club will be offering a range of qualifications, certificates and awards, including A-level equivalent courses and coaching and refereeing qualifications. Academy students will also gain first aid skills and learn how to lead healthy lifestyles. Successful youngsters could win a first-team apprenticeship with the club.
There’s also the chance to play and train all year round on the stadium’s state-of-the-art 3G pitch. As well as football coaching, an academy team will play in the English Colleges League and Conference Reserves League.
Maidstone United chief executive Bill Williams said: “This is a great opportunity for anyone completing their GCSEs this summer to continue in education while playing the sport they love. The Gallagher Stadium is the perfect place for the academy. As part of the £2.6million development, we have included three classrooms and the synthetic pitch can be used daily. It’s a world away from traditional schools and colleges which will be an attraction in itself.”
Applicants will be invited to a trial and interview at which their footballing skills will be assessed. It is expected that young people will have achieved five GCSE at A*-C by the time the programme starts in September. Support will be offered to those who need to top up their qualifications, especially if they demonstrate particular talent for the game and have just missed GCSE grade(s).