Gillingham Football Club's Community Trust are to join forces with Sittingbourne FC to help deliver a Football Academy Program starting this September

Gillingham FC Community and Education Foundation are embarking on a new partnership to develop young players by joining forces with Sittingbourne FC to help deliver their Football Academy program starting in September.

Gillingham FC Community trust will be providing the education element of the program and will become mobile by helping Sittingbourne convert their new Woodstock facility into a classroom by day for the education of their players.

Darren Hare, Head of Gillingham’s boys Academy and also a trustee of the foundation says: "This is an exciting project for both organisations.

"Sittingbourne have fantastic facilities over at Woodstock, including a gym, with regular transport links, and a great deal of space to provide the practical element to the players, and they are delighted with what we have to offer having now linked in closely with Bexley College to provide post 16 qualifications."

The course will be full time studying a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in sports science, with work experience added, along with FA accredited coaching qualifications and a comprehensive four corner approach to developing young players. Darren adds:

"It might seem a bit strange that Gillingham FC Community trust are delivering this and not a school or college direct, but we have the expertise here at the club to provide an excellent experience for young players learning about Sport.

"We have qualified teachers here and our industry professionals in fitness, for example, provide an excellent support mechanism and link to the theory the learners will be absorbing, and we have three FA Coach educators with many years’ experience to support the learning cycle in that strand of the program.

"I am really excited by the partnership, and as I said, we are here to support Sittingbourne FC and as such they will have access to any advice or expertise they may wish to tap into, but the football program is theirs to develop using their own philosophy - we won’t get involved in that unless we are asked."

There are plans for Sittingbourne to join a competitive league to play fixtures on Wednesdays, and it is hoped that some players will progress to the Club’s first team at the end of their two year course, but there will be many opportunities to progress academically too if the players so wish, and they will get full support in being directed onto HE or employment opportunities from our experienced staff, as well as learning support if required.

There is an open day where representatives from both organisations will be in attendance on THURSDAY 7th August 2014 between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. A presentation will illustrate the program of study and the many opportunities available, with a question and answer session at the end.

This is part of the start of a new journey for the Club’s community trust and it is hoped there can be further new partnerships happening on the horizon. For details about what we can offer please call 01634 350125 and ask for Adam Lawrence, Trust manager or email