Academy growing again to 14 clubs!

By David Watters

The Northern Premier League's NPL Football Academy is growing again with two more clubs getting ready to benefit from the ground-breaking football and education programme.

Brighouse Town and Rushall Olympic are both looking forward to launching NPLFA programmes this September before welcoming their first intake of students for season 2019-20 following 12 months of marketing and trials.

The NPLFA's delighted officials announced their successful brand was expanding from 12 to 14 clubs this week with the pair joining the ranks of Belper Town, Carlton Town, Kidsgrove Athletic, Leek Town, Matlock Town, Mickleover Sports, Mossley, Ossett United, Radcliffe FC, Sutton Coldfield Town, Warrington Town and Witton Albion.

Thanks to its success since being launched in 2014 at five pilot clubs with the backing of the Football Association, NPLFA clubs now benefit from a host of financial and other benefits extending to their first teams including sponsorships, kit and equipment deals and excellent income generation educating students to degree course level.

NPLFA students are also providing a conveyor belt of talent for the Northern Premier League. At the last count, nearly 40 had graduated to first team football or higher while many others are now tapping into US scholarships or continuing their studies to degree course level following the launch of a new partnership with Loughborough University last summer.

The NPLFA is also set to keep expanding. A spokesman said: “We are delighted to welcome the clubs on board. We have consolidated and built up the brand of the NPLFA over the past 18 months and the progression has been an increase in teams at our existing clubs.

"We will now be looking to engage with two to three clubs per year as we work a year in advance and are delighted Rushall Olympic and Brighouse Town are on board. We will be looking to engage with two more clubs in time for September 2019 and we should be able to announce one of those clubs soon. Any clubs wishing to engage should contact us direct.”

Rushall Olympic chairman John Allen is looking forward to reaping the rewards of joining the NPLFA despite his senior stars leaving the NPL this summer to kick off in the new Midlands Premier Division in August following the latest restructuring of Non-League by the FA.

The Pics chairman said: “We have tried to set up this programme before on a number of occasions with various companies and for clubs at this level it is very difficult with time, staff resources, cost and expertise. I feel confident this time by joining the NPLFA and their management structure that at least we will have the correct support to be able to try and set up a new programme which we desire.

"Whilst still in its infancy the NPLFA is growing, one of the attractions is it is part of the senior league structure and secure financially, the other is they incur all the costs to see if they can kick start a programme for us. As the league grows it seems inevitable more financial opportunities will occur for clubs as part of a wider national programme. We look forward to working with the NPLFA to try and establish in 2019 an educational programme at Rushall.”

Brighouse Town's manager Vill Powell believes membership of an established programme with infrastructure already in place will be a huge boost to the club's long term ambitions from his first team down.

Powell told the NPLFA's website: “The main reason we joined the NPLFA was progression. We see the value in having a structured well run academy system within the club and how it will hopefully contribute to player development and be a key factor in the clubs progression, as it will create closer links with the community and local schools which is fundamental to the clubs long term aspirations.

"When we looked at setting this up we looked at various options and we choose this programme because it’s established and the infrastructure is already in place and with the management and process handle by NPLFA it makes things smoother and easier for us to implement.

"The obvious benefits to the club include having players train and play full time while also getting an education, stronger links with the local community and schools, ability to develop players internally for the first team and not forgetting the financial boost the club will receive through the programme.”

Still the only league-wide academy in English football combining sport with education in order to provide career pathways into the football industry, the NPLFA's clubs welcomed their fourth intake of students last season and next week are hosting half-term trials for current Year 11 and 12 pupils hoping to study on two year BTEC courses from September.

For further details and information on the NPLFA’s football education programme and its benefits, visit Alternatively, contact the NPLFA at to arrange a presentation at your club.

Images courtesy of @NPLFA/Twitter

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