An innovative football and education scholarship programme is to kick-off in south east Northumberland next year.
Preparations for the programme begin this week when potential scholars can find out more about the opportunities presented by the programme, which will be hosted by Blyth Spartans AFC.
The programme offers young people aged 16 to 18 the chance to gain a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma, which is equivalent to three A-levels and which can facilitate access to universities.
“Similar schemes are under way at Millwall, Crystal Palace, FC Halifax and Bury,” said project manager Steve Brennan.
“We are delighted that Blyth Spartans are happy to host the programme at their home ground – Croft Park.
“Scholars will undertake the two-year qualification in a stimulating environment at Croft Park under the direction of experienced education professionals.
“They will each have access to a computer and a bespoke virtual learning environment.
“They can also access other vocational qualifications such as Level 1 coaching, opening doors to a career in sport.”
Pupils will also participate in six hours of football training every week with qualified coaches and represent Blyth Spartans in regular scholarship fixtures.
Spartans general manager Ian Evans said: “The club is thrilled to welcome this successful programme to the area..
“Ninety-seven per cent of students on courses elsewhere pass out with a BTEC Level 3 and we can see a variety of benefits across the club, the local community and of course the young people themselves.
“There are two open nights planned where potential students, and their families, can come along to hear more about the programme and how they can get involved.
“Any youngster from the age of 14 to 17 is welcome to join us in our clubhouse at Croft Park either tonight (Thursday) or on December 19 at 7pm for a 7.30pm start when we will be looking for scholars to start the programme in September next year.”