FORMER Swindon Town star Charlie Austin has backed the Samsung Win A Pro Contract competition as it reaches its business end once again.
The QPR striker was the inspiration for the competition, which awards three young players contracts at Swindon Town, Leyton Orient and Wycombe Wanderers, having been plucked from non-league football and his job as a brick layer to become one of the Robins’ most potent strikers in recent years.
Now in its fourth year, the competition is down to the final 22 players who will be assessed at Orient’s Matchroom Stadium on March 2 before a select few will be given the chance to train with the respective clubs for a week.
Austin believes the competition is the perfect way for talented amateurs to live their dreams and urged young players not to give up if they suffer knock backs along the way.
“I believe in Samsung’s Win A Pro Contract competition because there are a lot of young footballers around who haven't been given the chance by pro clubs, or even ever been seen by scouts,” he said.
“I think it's a great opportunity for young lads to get a second chance, just like I did.”
“I am really looking forward to the final. It’ll be exciting to see the lads who have been chosen to play in a game that could potentially change their whole life forever.
“It's a great stage for them to show what they are about.”
“My advice to any amateur footballer would be never, ever give up on your dreams.
“Never think there is nobody watching you play. That's what I thought, then look what happened to me. You must try your best every time you cross that white line, whether it is for training or a match, always give 100 per cent.
“You never know where that performance on that day may take you.”
Town boss Mark Cooper will be attending the final and added: “I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on offer from the lads taking part in this year’s Win a Pro Contract competition,” he said.
“As well as their natural talent, I’ll be looking out for players that are not afraid of rolling their sleeves up, doing a bit of hard work and committing to the cause.”
The hopefuls will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Jordan Pavett, Chris Smith and Kayden Jackson who were all awarded professional deals with Town following the competition.