A pioneering programme to combine football and education has kicked off in Dereham.

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The sixth-form college and football club in the town have teamed up in a £100,000 project to give 16 to 19-year-olds more options when they finish high school.

Based at Aldiss Park, the home of Dereham Town Football Club, the Dereham Education and Soccer Academy will form a two-year programme providing qualifications ranging from a BTEC diploma in sport, and extended diploma, and a diploma with an A Level, plus the option of a GCSE re-take.

Starting in September this year, the academy aims to provide up to 30 young people in mid Norfolk with the opportunity to progress on to university, into scholarships and into employment in the sports and football industry.

Matt Henman, manager of the club, said he couldn’t believe they hadn’t thought of the link with the sixth- form college before.

He said: “We are in the ideal position to take advantage of the partnership with the sixth form, and most of the people we have brought into the club understand our philosophy.”

He said he had always had an interest in youth development, so the club’s role in the academy would allow that development to be shaped in the way the club wanted it.

Mr Henman, who has been involved in the club since he was young, said the club had contributed £15,000 to the project, as well as providing the grounds, a classroom for the learning, kit, and a third generation football turf at the Norwich Road ground.

Phyllis O’Grady, director of the college, said the course would be run by the sixth form, despite being based at the ground on Norwich Road.

And they will employ two teachers with a strong interest in sports.

She said: “Whatever we offer we want to have first-class education, including vocational courses.

“We are a community school, and we really want to give our students the best possible opportunities and advantages.”

To apply, visit www.helpyouchoose.org. The closing date for applications is March 22.




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