Football academy to boost female participation

NEW ACADEMY: The Colleges senior football coach Richard Wilkins
NEW ACADEMY: The Colleges senior football coach Richard Wilkins
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West Suffolk College is encouraging young women to join their new football academy, on the back of a growing interest in female football.

This interest has been sparked by the recent successes of the England women’s football team and their current Euro 2017 run — with the semi-final yesterday evening.

And it has led to the college deciding to offer promising players a chance to study an academic subject at the college alongside learning to play elite football.

Former student and Bury Town player Nick Pope, who now plays for Burnley FC, said: “I went to West Suffolk College and played over 100 games for a number of college teams.

“To do that for a goalkeeper at that age was the best thing that could have happened, I was really fortunate.”

Senior football coach Richard Wilkins said the Academy is open to students aged 16-19, who enrol on a college course that enables them to train but also carry on their education.

Subjects that offer this flexibility include business, travel and tourism, public services and sport.

He said: “Women’s football is growing and there are many young talented players out there. We want to compete at the highest level against the best.

“The leap from under-16s football to senior league is a giant one and the course will help make it easier for players to step up”.

Over the years the college has had several students go on to become professional football players, and it’s hoped the Football Academy — in collaboration with Suffolk FA — will produce future professional players.

Plenty have already signed up to the Academy, to get training several times a week and regular matches on a Wednesday, as well as information on nutrition and strength training.

A pre-season training programme is running on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 12 noon in Bury. Interested people should email