YORK could become a hot-bed for football talent from around the world, following the launch of a new partnership between one of the city's universities and a sports organisation.
The i2i International Soccer Academy will enable students to work towards a full time degree at York St John University while also completing a pro-level football training programme.
The first students will arrive in York in September, after the university and i2i Sports officially signed a deal last month.
Professor Andy Smith, head of sports participation and performance at York St John, said: “The i2i International Soccer Academy is the ultimate programme for any young footballer who dreams of studying for a degree, whilst exploring the many opportunities available in the world of football. Students will spend their mornings in the lecture theatre and their afternoons training on the training pitch.
“It’s an intensive programme, which will bring about fantastic opportunities for young footballers with the desire to succeed both physically and academically. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming our first cohort of students in September and seeing what they can achieve.”
The university said the project had been made possible by York St John’s £10m investment into its Sports Park, in Haxby Road. The park includes a FIFA certificated 3G pitch and new grass pitches, and work is to start soon on an indoor sport facility with a gym.
The academy's head of coaching is Bryan Hughes, who previously played for Birmingham City, Charlton Athletic and Hull City.
He said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with York St John University. To be able to offer an academic pathway alongside a full time coaching programme is a fantastic concept.
“It’s very important for aspiring footballers to continue their education, as it enables them to go on to explore a wide range of career opportunities. The i2i International Soccer Academy is the perfect solution to this.”
Academy students can study for either a BA Hons degree in International Business Management or a BSc Hons degree in Strength & Conditioning.
Coaches will then work closely with each player with a view to helping them pursue potential careers, and any players identified as having professional football potential will be given the opportunity to take part in trials with clubs.
Andy Milne, head of the i2i International Soccer Academy, said: “One of the unique features of the i2i International Soccer Academy is the variety of pathways we are able to offer our students – both during the programme and after they graduate.
“Our philosophy is “to inspire individuals to fulfil their potential” and our staff will be working extremely hard to ensure that every single student is successful on their own individual pathway."
The coaches have spent most of November in the USA where they have been holding a series of Prospect Camps in Utah, New York and California.