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Ashford United have revealed an academy plan

By Joe Harbert

Ashford United are to offer a full-time educational and football development academy for 16-19 year-olds, the first of its kind in the town.

Starting in September this year, the two-year course at Homelands Stadium will give students the chance to study topics such as nutrition and physiology, as well as being coached football daily during their journey.

By then gaining a Level 3 BTEC qualification, the subsequent UCAS points earned will give pupils the chance to further their studies at university, apply for apprenticeships, or pursue a footballing career at a higher level.

Ashford manager Tommy Warrilow
Ashford manager Tommy Warrilow

The programme, led on the field by United first-team manager Tommy Warrilow, will be looking for applicants throughout the coming months when pupils complete their Level 2 studies in the summer.

Those who don’t receive the required five A*-C GCSE grades needed for the two-year course will be able to undertake an additional foundation year beforehand, as the club search for a rich pool of undiscovered talent in the area.

Warrilow, a UEFA B licensed coach who will head the training part of the course alongside first-team coach Louis Dean, featured for the likes of Millwall and Torquay, as well as in countries such as Australia and Finland during his playing career.

The 55-year-old was also chief scout for current National League outfit Ebbsfleet United shortly before becoming Nuts & Bolts boss just over a year ago.

Meanwhile Dean, a UEFA A licensed coach, has also enjoyed success by leading Welling Town to the SCEFL Division 1 title at the age of 28 last season.

Warrilow believes the course will give players a great platform to succeed on and off the pitch.

“The club has got great infrastructure here with the youth teams, but there is nothing in the area for a post-16 programme,” he said.

“If we can get some of the good, local talent we have in the area playing and be able to push them on, that would be fantastic. But of course there’s two sides to the course and the most important is the educational aspect.

“Some kids want to play football every day and some don’t want to go to university, so we want to provide them with an education and something they can fall back on.

“If we can make them better people and give them qualifications and a good experience that they can learn from, we feel that’s only a good thing.”

More information regarding the course is set to appear on the club’s official website.

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