Education and Training
New football club for Gloucestershire aims to be pathway to professional game
One of the country’s most respected cradles of elite sport has announced it is launching a new football club aimed at bridging the gap to the professional game.
It could, of course, be none other than Hartpury University – already nationally recognised in sports including netball, equestrian, rugby – the institution is now aiming to provide students with further opportunities to become professional footballers.
Hartpury University FC will play in Hellenic League Division Two North when the new campaign gets under way following the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The squad will comprise players aged 16 and upwards from the highly successful junior and senior football academies at Hartpury College and Hartpury University.
Paul Tassell, Football Academy manager at Hartpury, said: “The academy continues to grow after the consistent success at college and university level and we have more than 40 players placed in non-League clubs to facilitate their development.
“Our successful relationships with a number of clubs have helped more than 35 of our players follow their dreams by playing professional football.
“The time is now right to give more opportunities to our growing base of young players and increase their development further.
“We hope to see more successes of our players in the future from this new innovative and forward-thinking project.”
Dr Martin Longworth, a UEFA ‘A’ Licence coach who has worked in semi-professional football at various clubs and is a UEFA ‘B’ Licence tutor with the Football Association of Wales (FAW), has been appointed head coach.
Alongside his role as Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching and Physical Education at Hartpury University, Dr Longworth has helped to develop its groundbreaking MSc Applied Performance Analysis in Sport programme.
Dr Longworth, who also manages the MSc Sports Coaching programme at Hartpury University, said:
“We have a fantastic reputation for nurturing talent in college and university football, and this is now an opportunity for us to make our mark on the domestic game.
“The launch of Hartpury University FC will also have immense benefits for students enrolled on our various academic programmes, as it will provide them with opportunities to work closely with the squad, gain valuable industry experience and generate research outputs.”
Students at Hartpury – the UK’s premier sport and education setting – have been the English Schools Football Association (FA) U18 national champions for four of the past six years.
They have won the English Colleges FA Premier League nine times, the English Colleges National Championship five times, the BUCS Premier League 10 times and been crowned BUCS national champions five times.
Hartpury football alumni include Ghana internationals Abdul Majeed Waris, Hartpury’s first graduate to play in a World Cup, and David Accam, Hartpury’s first graduate to play in the Champions League.
Former England Colleges captain Max Harris became the 36th professional footballer to be produced by Hartpury’s Football Academy when he signed for Oxford United last summer.
Chris Knowles, senior football manager and Hartpury University FC coach, said: “The launch of Hartpury University FC is an exciting opportunity to develop our dual career offering to our students and further enhance the journey of every student who comes through the Hartpury football programme.”
Hartpury has been officially accredited by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) for leading the way in how it supports talented athletes in education in England.
Hartpury aims to tailor academic and training timetables to suit student athletes and provides access to a range of world class-facilities on campus, including a 3G artificial grass football pitch with integrated video analysis equipment and a £8.8 million Sports Academy featuring specialist technology used by Premier League football clubs.
As well as top-level coaching and exceptional sports facilities, students at Hartpury have access to performance services that can include physiotherapy, sports psychology, nutrition advice, lifestyle support, and strength and conditioning.
Its new £8.8 million Sports Academy includes a biomechanics laboratory, a rehabilitation suite featuring an anti-gravity treadmill, and a human performance laboratory with an altitude chamber and sports hall.
Non-League football?refers to football leagues outside the Premier League and the three divisions of the English Football League.