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Football academy signs first trainees

by Hayley Robinson

Eighteen teenagers have been signed up for the new Sittingbourne Football Academy.

Aged between 16 and 18, they were given places after attending trials at Sittingbourne Community College (SCC) in May and June.

Courses will range from one to three years, with the players combining football with academic studies.

The academy is a partnership between SCC and Sittingbourne Football Club, whose secretary, John Pitts, has welcomed the recruits.

Mr Pitts said: "I was impressed with the standard of all of the lads. I hope some of them do go on to become professional footballers and it would be nice if Sittingbourne FC could play boys from its own academy."

The team, which will play in the Conference Youth League, starts training next week under new coach Graham Webb.

He is the former deputy trainer of the Dartford-based Evolution Football Academy and is a UEFA B qualified coach.

The team's first match will be on August 1 when they take on the touring USA youth team at The University Of Kent in Canterbury. Kick-off is at 11am.

Mr Pitts said: "The [USA] team usually plays the likes of Queens Park Rangers so it's quite special really."

The team officially starts at the academy in September and will attend training at the college on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays during term-time while studying for a range of post-16 qualifications, such as a level 2 Btec first diploma, level 3 Btec National, A-levels or GCSEs.

Home matches will be played on Wednesdays at 2pm at Bourne Park, Church Road, Sittingbourne.

The cost of the courses is covered by SCC with Sittingbourne FC covering the cost of the kit and the coaching.

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