Needham Market set to expand apprentice scheme

MORE students are to be given the chance to become apprentices at Ryman League Division One North side Needham Market and play in the club’s development team.

Market set up a scheme, led by head coach and former Manchester City and Northern Ireland player, Kevin Horlock, last summer with apprentices studying nationally recognised qualifications relevant to sport and the football industry, as well as NVQs, BTECs and coaching qualifications at level two and three.

The next batch of hopefuls aiming to join the elite apprentice team, which competes in the Ridgeons League North Division and forms the basis of the club’s reserve team, were invited to trials a few weeks ago.

The elite team will also be joining the British Elite Colleges League and the Capital Floodlit League next season, with second-year apprentices teaming up with the new batch.

However, the club is aiming to expand its programme and is holding trials for a ‘development team’ at the club’s ground on Wednesday April 11 (10am).

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Those youngsters, aged between 16-19, will undertake the same education and training as those in the elite section and will play competitive football in the British Colleges Participation League.

“The idea to set up the apprenticeship scheme was the manager of the first team’s, Danny Laws,” said Needham Market Head of Education, Paul Appleby.

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“He wanted to look at the possibility of recruiting 25 apprentices to be based at the football club, partaking in a mix of education, coaching, training during the day and then forming the basis of the reserve team at the club.

“We have invited 36 prospective apprentices, who may have represented the county or their respective academy, to take part in trials for the elite team and we have also decided to have a development team, whose players will receive the same training and education and form a team to play in the British Colleges Participation League.

“The development squad is open to 16-19 year-olds and we already have some boys travelling from as far afield as Cheshire and Devon to come and take part.”

The launch of the apprentice scheme last summer has already seen several players come into the thoughts of first-team manager Laws and Appleby believes the professionalism of the course will only benefit the club and the individuals.

“We would like to think the apprentice scheme we offer is the same as any professional academy,” said Appleby.

“The lads train and study all week and play at the weekend.

“We would like to think we are preparing the boys for employment although we hope some will make it in the professional game and, if not, here at Needham.

“We have some talented apprentices and the manager is not afraid to give them a chance.”

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