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The next Ronaldo, Neymar or Messi could walk out of Northfleet Technology College (NTC) as they launch new football academy with Punjab United FC


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The next footballing superstar could come out of Kent's newest academy set to open in September 2022.

Northfleet Technology College has partnered with Punjab United FC in the school's venture to offer a footballing programme with former Ebbsfleet United captain Paul Lorraine as head coach.

From left: Head of youth development Rhaj Dhesi, Punjab United FC owner and manager Chipie Sian, football academy head coach Paul Lorraine and sports academy director Martin Parry. Picture: NTC
From left: Head of youth development Rhaj Dhesi, Punjab United FC owner and manager Chipie Sian, football academy head coach Paul Lorraine and sports academy director Martin Parry. Picture: NTC

The school, in Colyer Road, Northfleet, has launched the course after the success of their basketball academy in collaboration with Kent Crusaders which has run since 2009.

Sports academy director Martin Parry said: "We are really excited to add the football programme to an already successful basketball academy.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring footballers to continue with their studies and to follow their dreams to play semi and professional football."

Over 16s are being encouraged to apply to the course if they have a passion for the game and want to further their education.

Martin added that students will still complete their schooling and have the same choices of classes as their non-academy peers as their goal is to get the youngsters into university or apprenticeships.

He emphasised that the academy is not just football but helps those enrolled "prepare for life" as it grows their skills beyond a classroom by promoting a healthy lifestyle and time management.

Northfleet Technology College will open the new academy next year. Picture: Simon Hildrew
Northfleet Technology College will open the new academy next year. Picture: Simon Hildrew

The director added: "They come in as kids and leave as men."

The collaboration with Punjab United FC was a "natural thing to do as we wanted to develop a community partnership", he said.

He continued: "Their vision and growth over the last eight years has been phenomenal. The people involved are passionate."

The ambitious players will train alongside the squad and even represent them at weekends with the possibility of being scouted by other clubs. Martin said: "We are putting them in the shop window.".

Chipie Sian, Punjab United FC owner and manager, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn and develop in a professional environment.

"We will be offering a structured programme that will help our scholars improve on their tactical and technical ability as well improving their playing level.

Sheppey United take on Punjab United at Holm Park. Picture: Chris Davey
Sheppey United take on Punjab United at Holm Park. Picture: Chris Davey
Punjab United with former mayors Harold Craske and David Hurley and MP Adam Holloway. Picture: Punjab United
Punjab United with former mayors Harold Craske and David Hurley and MP Adam Holloway. Picture: Punjab United

"This will prepare and enable them to make the next step up after their Academy journey is over."

Players will have daily training sessions and games every Wednesday as part of the academy league.

Former Ebbsfleet United and Punjab United FC captain Paul Lorraine, who will be joining NTC as head coach, said: "I have a massive passion for Gravesend and Northfleet so I am delighted to have accepted this exciting opportunity.

"My aim is to support any aspiring football player to fulfil their dream. Furthermore, I will use all my experience to guide these young people to be the best version of themselves, both on and off the pitch."

The academy trials will be held at Punjab United FC on November 11, 7pm-9pm. For more details and to book a place, prospective students should contact parrym@ntc.kent.sch.uk

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

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