Former Norwich City ace and Leiston boss Eadie heads up new football programme at Suffolk school

Kesgrave High School sign

Kesgrave High School - Credit: PA

Leiston Football Club have launched a new football programme with Kesgrave High School.

The programme, that will launch in September, will see sixth form students at the school combine a full football programme alongside their studies.

KHS has a large sixth form and offers more than 40 A-level and BTEC courses. They are adding Sports BTEC options in September to that list and this will give students on the football programme complete choice over their academic studies.  

Leiston's joint managers, Chris Wigger (left) and Darren Eadie. Picture: ROBERT WALKLEY

Leiston's joint managers, Chris Wigger (left) and Darren Eadie. Picture: ROBERT WALKLEY - Credit: Archant

The programmes is being headed up by former Norwich City and Leicester City winger, Darren Eadie. He will combine it alongside his role as joint manager of Leiston first team.

“Working in combination with a school gives students the best of both worlds,” he said. “It’s being taught by education specialists and coached by football specialists.”

The boys will train regularly throughout the school week. There will be an U18 team based at KHS, playing in the college league. The boys will also be able to play for Leiston U18s in the Thurlow Nunn midweek league, as well as senior teams on Saturdays.

Victory Road, the home of Leiston FC, during a past FA Cup tie against Gloucester. Picture: SIMON PA

Victory Road, home of Leiston FC

“This will give our 16-18 year olds a similar football experience to that which occurs in the professional game,” added Eadie.

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“It gives them the best possible opportunity to develop all aspects of their game.”

Eadie will be joined by Dave Williams and Dale Threadkell as coaches for the programme. Both have worked with this age group for three seasons, alongside Steve Foley who supports all of Leiston’s EJA teams.

“This programme will also enable the boys to develop athletically,” said Williams.

“They will have opportunity to play lots of football, as well as work on their strength and conditioning.  We will have to monitor their workloads carefully, but we hope that through these key development years we are able to turn out a generation of young players who are extremely well equipped to play senior football.”

A lot of effort has been made to keep fans safe at non-league grounds This photo is from last season

Leiston fans at Victory Road. The first team play at Step 3 in the Southern League Central Premier Division - Credit: Archant

Working with Threadkell and Steve Foley, the U16 squad have increased their training frequency this season.

"Eleven of the current squad already attend KHS so it was a natural alliance to forge. The senior teachers at KHS have been really supportive," Williams added.

Trevor Elmy, a former teacher at an Ipswich school, has also been involved in the Programme’s development

“It was clear following numerous conversations with KHS senior teachers that we were all invested in making this work,” he said.

“There is good evidence that sports participation and achievement can improve academic achievement.  KHS has a strong reputation academically and was a perfect choice for the club to work with.”

Leiston chairman Andy Crisp, who has revealed an option to re-start the season by splitting divisions in half

Leiston chairman Andy Crisp - Credit: Archant

Leiston chairman, Andy Crisp, was delighted with the club’s new football programme.

“I would like to thank Kesgrave High School for agreeing to this unique partnership, it’s something that’s been discussed for a while now and we’re extremely pleased that everything is now in place,” he said.

“The Kesgrave/Leiston project will give a unique opportunity for those students who join, academically they will be able to choose what level of education they want and at the same be coached professionally by our coaches to fulfil their dreams of becoming quality footballers. 

"Darren (Eadie) and Dave (Williams) have dedicated a huge amount of time over the lockdown period in setting this up for which we at the football club are extremely grateful for, our youth development programme over the last three years has really gained momentum and the Kesgrave project will further add to the club’s ethos of player development.”

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