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SWINDON TOWN: Trust helping youngsters fulfil potential
THERE’S something special going on at Swindon Town which goes unnoticed behind the razzmatazz of the first-team squad.
Hidden away at the Croft Sports Centre during the week, the Robins’ Community Trust are educating 70 boys and girls using football and futsal as a platform.
A four-coach team lead the students, who are aged between 16 and 19, through a two-year futsal and football education course which combines coaching, playing and learning about football - as well as a BTEC Level Three extended diploma in sport.
The award is the equivalent to three A-levels and is recognised by employers and universities nationwide and internationally.
When the Advertiser got the chance to visit the facility on a warm Tuesday morning recently, it was easy to see how happy the programme makes its students.
A swarm of red shirts float around the sports centre, making use of one of the most expansive courses of its kind nationally.
For Community Trust chief Jon Holloway, the whole initiative is about using football to breathe new life into young adults who may otherwise flail.
“Our setup is one of the biggest in the country. I think only Cardiff is bigger. We aim to deliver and education as well as teaching our students football,” he said.
“They undertake a BTEC as part of the programme and play both futsal and football. We’re part of three different leagues which means they play at least once a week in a competitive game.”
The scholars on the programme are registered into the Football League Futsal League, with games taking place at the Futsal Arena at Kembrey Park, as well as the Premier League and Football League Colleges League and the Wilts County Colleges League, meaning the opportunity for match action is maximised.
Cardiff, Derby and Southampton are regular opponents for the boys, while the girls frequently face the likes of Reading and Exeter.
“In some clubs the students are only part of one league, or they only play futsal, which means it can be up to two weeks between matches,” said Holloway.
“We’re going into our second year and its a perfect mix now of football and education to help the kids develop.
“It combines playing the game that they love with a grounding in the classroom which we all know is important.”
With Luke Sharps and Steve Robertson leading the coaching side of the programme and Paul Gardiner and Dave Chappell in charge of the classroom element, the future of Swindon’s young, football-mad students looks bright.
And although there is no longer any room for new pupils, Holloway revealed that new avenues are being pursued.
“We’re delighted with the way it’s going and, although it is probably full to capacity now, the Football League is looking at other options for programmes which could act in the same role for the community,” he said.
- SWINDON Town Football in the Community Trust have received a massive boost with the news that Intel have agreed to renew their sponsorship of the programme for another two years.
The computer giant’s partnership with STFiTC has meant the Trust’s football and futsal education programme have been provided with laptops and electronic support, improving the opportunities for scholars to learn.
Trust manager Jon Holloway couldn’t be happier with the news, telling the Advertiser: “It’s huge. It’s a perfect partnership for us as not only do Intel supply us with electronic equipment, they also send people out to help fix any problems we might have.
“It’s a really important partnership for us and we’re delighted that they’re coming back in again after a successful couple of years.”
A statement from Intel read: “Intel are very happy to announce the extended sponsorship of Swindon Town Football in the Community. The partnership continues to be exciting, creating new engagement opportunities for the local community in education and sport.
“Intel are proud to have contributed heavily to the setting up of the football and futsal education programme and look forward to continued collaboration on further projects over the coming years.“
A Trust statement read: “This is fantastic news. We are proud of what the partnership has achieved over the last two years and it has been clear to all at STFiTC that Intel, as a company, are serious about making a difference within their local community.
“The partnership has also enable STFiTC to benefit greatly from the Intel volunteering programme which has seen Intel employees giving up their time to volunteer on a whole range of community projects.
“We would like to thank Intel for their continued support and we are very excited about further enhancing our community projects.”
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