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The Bath City Football Academy is searching for talented young players interested in developing a professional sports career.
 

Twenty-five spaces are available for players aged 16 to 19, to start training with head coach Billy Clark in September.
 

Teenagers will have the chance to play at Twerton Park in the South West Youth Counties League and will complete a national diploma in sport at Bath College.
 

Bradley Champion, 16, from Bath, started at the academy last year and has enjoyed the opportunity to train regularly.
 

He said: “I have made new friends, my teammates have become my best friends. When I see them play it encourages me to develop.”
 

Players at the academy will train three or four afternoons each week, with one or two matches per week.
 

They will be picked to compete in the ECFA Premier League, the South West Counties League or the ECFA South West North League.
 

Students can also choose to study two types of diplomas, designed to prepare students for employment or higher education.
 

Sports lecturer Paul Blenkinsopp said: “A lot of people think ‘you go to an academy and if you don’t make it where can you go?’ We have the right exit routes to help them progress into different careers.
 

“We’re giving them the best of both worlds. If you’re interested in going to university you will follow our route to higher education course and study for a BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport, which is the equivalent of three A-levels.
 

“If you’re more interested in employment you will follow our route to employment course and study for a BTEC Subsidiary Diploma in Sport, which is the equivalent of two A-levels, as well as additional qualifications.”
 

Head coach Billy Clark spent most of his career with Bristol Rovers and is keen to give players the best start for the future.
 

He said: “In the past we’ve recruited players from far and wide, from Swindon, Westbury, Radstock, Bristol and Bath.
 

“My aim is to enhance and develop the players, as footballers and as people, preparing them for adult life. Ultimately I am aiming to develop players that will be good enough to play for Bath City.
 

“An important part of this process is the club’s link with the University of Bath, where players can go to continue their football and education program.
 

“Some players who progress from the academy programme take up scholarships in America. Others have become coaches and most continue to play for clubs at western league, southern league and conference league levels.
 

“To date, six players have played for the Bath City first team and many more have played for the club’s under 21 development squad.

“The overall opportunity for students is excellent.”
 

To find out about the Bath City Football Academy call (01225) 312191 or e-mail paul.blenkinsopp@bathcollege.ac.uk
 

For website information click here.

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