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Academy Set To Go International

Haverhill Football Academy is launching their international programme later this year allowing students from overseas to join their full-time football and education programme.

Run by the New Croft Foundation, it will welcome its first cohort of 15 to 30 students, all aged 16 to 18, in August and September.

The new programme will offer two-year courses and be run in partnership with Cornerstone College Cambridge, which will provide the academic provision and arrange accommodation for the students, who are coming from Africa and Asia.

New Croft Foundation Director Peter Betts explained: “Off the back of the existing programme, we have been approached by a number of organisations around partnering with us to enhance our football academy provision.

“We were approached by an education provider in Cambridge that spoke to us about running an international programme in partnership with them.

“They looked at Haverhill and the facilities and the staff in place and asked if we can provide a full-time provision alongside their education provision. After numerous meetings we have reached an agreement.

“We’ve had meetings with students, with headteachers and with parents, mostly via Teams or Zoom calls, from all over the world.

“We’ve done some taster days where kids have flown in from Africa and Asia and they have been really successful.”

Mr Betts said: “There’s been so much interest in what we are offering, some schools from Cameroon and Nigeria are asking our staff to go out and show them the opportunities we have in the UK.”

And the creation of the new programme has led to another well-known (but as yet unnamed) person from the world of women’s football agreeing to join the team.

“We have recruited another member of staff who is a former Arsenal and Northern Ireland international and she is starting with us on September 1, so we are going to have two former professional players,” said Mr Betts.

Such had been the level of interest in the international programme, added Mr Betts, that himself, Kevin Horlock, the former professional player at Ipswich Town, Manchester City and West Ham United and manager of Needham Market FC, who manages the academy, plus one other member of staff, would be flying out to Nigeria at the end of the month to meet interested parties.

“It’s really exciting. It’s something that is going to enhance our provision in Haverhill and over time it gives us the opportunity to grow our programme.”

While the international programme will welcome its first cohort in time for the next academic year, the existing football academy will have two cohorts in place.

A new cohort of overseas students will start their course in 2025.

Alongside the football coaching, the academy now has a nutritionist on site, so that students will have the opportunity to have meals every day.

Nationally, Haverhill Football Academy is now firmly in a league of its own, as Mr Betts emphasised: “Nobody else is doing anything like this. There is nothing like this being replicated.”


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