The transfer window may now be firmly closed - but a new deal between a college and a football club aims to open up new opportunities for sport lovers who want to gain an education.
Lee Mandley from Suffolk New College and Robert Peace from Needham Market shook on the deal that will bring a new partnership between the organisations.
The contract will give those aged 16 and over the chance to pursue their footballing careers by training at the academy based at Needham Market’s Evo-Stik Southern League’s home ground, Bloomfields - whilst gaining a full-time qualification at the same time.
The course will allow them to choose from a range of subjects to study alongside their football training.
Talks began last year and operations and academy director at the club, Robert Peace, is delighted to get the deal over the line.
He said: “I’m very excited and delighted about this link up. For us, it adds something extra to our education provision.
“Everyone in the region knows Suffolk New College and the good reputation they have - therefore we are delighted to be partnered with them.
“It’s important for us as we want our academy graduates to progress.
“Statistics show that the vast majority of prospects won’t make it to professional football so it’s important that everyone who goes through our academy has something to fall back on.
“We want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to progress onto a university course or into employment.
“Numbers wise, we anticipate offering around 70 to 80 places by year two and we will have regular dialogue with the college to see how this link up can grow.”
Lee Mandley, head of sport and public services at Suffolk New College, said: “We established a positive connection with representatives at Needham Market Football Club last year and the culmination of lots of hard work is this deal.
“In my opinion, they are the club that is moving forward rapidly in this county. They are doing great things both on and off the pitch so we are proud to be in partnership with them.”
Currently, the football club has created a golf academy to run alongside the football provision in partnership with Hintlesham Golf Club.