George McCowie, a Year 11 student at Richmond School and Sixth Form College, has secured a coveted place in Darlington Football Club’s Academy Team. George first experienced life at the Academy a year ago, when he did his work placement there, and he quickly realised that this was where he wanted to further his studies and career.  This is a fabulous achievement to reach such an impressive standard in a highly competitive field.

George has been playing for Darlington Football Club for five years, starting in the Under 12s team. From September, he will be studying for a Level-3 Extended Diploma in Sport (equivalent to three A-levels), whilst playing in the National League with the Academy Team.  He is looking forward to the opportunity of training alongside Darlington’s First Team.

While doing his work experience at Darlington, George played and trained with the club, which was demanding as he had to keep up with the team members who had been training constantly on their fitness. He also had his heartbeat analysed during his time at the club. He was involved behind the scenes, learning how the club is run, and he helped with the ordering of large batches of tickets for the club.

George said: “I knew when I spent my work experience week with the Academy that it was something I would really like to do. I love playing football and this course will enhance my own development in sport and football in all areas. I am looking forward to pre-season training and I can’t wait to get started.”

Paul Thomas, Director of Youth Darlington Football Club, added: “We are delighted that George has decided to sign his national league contract with Darlington fc. George has played for the Academy since he was 12 and now will start his journey into full time football and education with us.

“Every year we have seen a development in his game and hopefully now with his own hard work and mentality we are hopeful the full time aspect will really make him kick on.”

George did his work experience in March, unlike the rest of the students in his year who went out in June and July. This was because it was important that he did the placement during the football season. George had to catch up on his studies while the rest of the year group were out on placement in the summer.

Ms Mannion, Careers Leader, concluded: “It is unusual for a Year 10 student to do a placement outside of the standard June/July window. However, George was so highly motivated to carry out his placement and it has really paid off for him as he clearly made a long-lasting impression. We wish him all the best for the future.”

Visit https://darlingtonfc.co.uk/academy to find out more about Darlington Football Academy.