Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.25.34YOUNG players have netted the opportunity to climb the coaching ladder by gaining an approved FA qualification.

Darlington College BTEC sports students, in partnership with the Martin Gray Football Academy, have undergone an intense training course to complete their level 1 award in coaching football.

The certificate, backed by the English Footballing Association, will enable

the sporting students to teach young players up to the age of 16 and is the first step in becoming a recognised FA coach.

Andrew Jinks, of the Martin Gray Football Academy, said: “We have had 52 first and second year BTEC students with us over the past two weeks all completing their level 1 coaching award.

“Football is changing with the game becoming quicker, stronger and more creative and the role of a coach can never be underestimated.

“Once the students have received their qualification they will be able to coach at some of our MGFA after-school clubs and if they go on to gain an apprenticeship with us can then gain their level 2 awards.”

The one-week course was supervised by former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Darlington FC professional footballer, FA education coach Dave Wintersgill.

“The level 1 award provides an introduction to the organisation and delivery of safe and enjoyable coaching sessions for players,” said Dave.

“It provides practical drills to develop players’ technical skills such as shooting, turning with the ball and heading and is ideally suited to those working with groups of young players.

“Obviously the ultimate dream for a lot of these lads is to be a professional player but for some getting these qualifications can lead to careers in football coaching, management, sport physiotherapy or many other roles within a football club.”

Alongside learning the practical elements to coaching, the students also covered topics including player and coach development, the FA’s respect programme, laws of the game, FA emergency aid and safeguarding children.

Student Dale Milburn, 17, of Kelloe, said: “My ambition is to be a football coach so this is the first step on the career ladder for me.

“The sessions have been really useful and I’ve learnt a lot which I can now put into practical use helping to coach other young players.

“Hopefully I can now progress on the coaching pathway to gain internationally recognised qualifications.”

For more information on opportunities at Darlington College visit