North East Connected

Academy Celebrates Footballing Talent at National Level

North Shore Academy in Stockton, which is part of the Northern Education Trust, is celebrating the successful progression of its under-15 team through to the semi-finals of the English Schools’ Football Association Cup.

The team recently played Stretford Grammar School at a match in Manchester and faced Ellesmere Port High School in the semi-finals over the weekend, unfortunately losing 3-2, but as vice principal, Michael Burns explains, although the school has fielded an under-15 side for many years, this is the first season this team has played together and it is a major triumph for them to become one of the top three teams in England so soon. 

Their success to date has been forged with the help of ‘Footsmart’, which is an initiative developed to offer an alternative route to education for those who are in danger of becoming disengaged. 

This is the first time that Footsmart has been implemented at secondary level so North Shore Academy is a pilot which makes the team’s success all the more exciting, in the opinion of Mr Burns, who decided to get the team up and running.  He said:

“These are great lads and it is really satisfying that they have done so well. We are delighted with their performance and conduct and it is still great news for them to get this far.  Because they are inexperienced as a team we do think that if they had been able to play at home, the result may have been different, but it is still a great achievement – not just for the school but for the community as a whole.  It really lifts aspiration and creates a sense of pride in the neighbourhood.”

The team faced sides from Carlisle, Yorkshire, Manchester and Newcastle and have impressed professional coaches with scouts from Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Sunderland watching all the games.  This has resulted in one player, Kai Martin, being given a six week trial at Hartlepool while Charlie Tinkler and Gareth Basham have been given the opportunity to try out at Middlesbrough. 

Mr Burns continued: “We couldn’t have wished for more.  The help we have had from Footsmart has been outstanding and I doubt we could have made the semis without them.  The idea behind Footsmart is to provide an alternative to mainstream education and to build discipline and self-esteem with the students – they have achieved that and more besides.

“With Footsmart, they get curriculum time dedicated to football each week and work with UEFA qualified coaches, including Lewis Marr from Middlesbrough Football Club’s Academy. 

“Our sponsor, Northern Education Trust has also been a great help, supplying training kits and track suits for the team which the lads are thrilled with.  It is the first time for many that they have felt their contribution counts because they have been involved in something really important.”

Ian Lane, director of secondary education for Northern Education Trust, added: 

“What is amazing to see is the change in these students with this shared goal as team intent on winning.  As they achieved success you could see them changing as individuals, which, as a teacher, is probably one of the most rewarding aspects of this journey to the semi-finals.  They are much happier at school, re-engaging with their learning, they feel confident speaking to teaching staff and new people and are actively acting as role models for students lower down the school who really look up to them now because of their exemplary behaviour.

“There is always next year and we have high hopes for them.  Who knows what the future may hold.”

Northern Education Trust is a multi-academy trust, which sponsors 20 academies – ten primary and ten secondary schools – throughout the northeast and northwest of England.  It was established in 2012 and is headquartered in Newcastle.

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