International football academy will enable students to fulfil sporting and career goals
An international football programme headed up by former Football League coaches and players is set to kick off at the University of Gloucestershire this September.
The International Football Academy, in partnership with University Degrees Abroad (UDA), based in the US, will be an international player-scholar cohort of students from around the world, coached and supported by UDA for the duration of their degree at the University.
It will be based at the university’s new integrated sports park at Oxstalls where they will be using the FIFA-approved 3G facilities and International indoor arena, which is also home to an FA Women’s High Performance Football Centre.
The UDA’s programme director is former Walsall FC manager John Whitney, who made more than 200 appearances as a professional footballer.
The UDA’s director of football is Tommy Taylor, the former Cambridge United, Leyton Orient, Darlington and Peterborough manager who played more than 600 professional league games.
The Academy, which is being hosted by the University’s School of Sport and Exercise, will provide student athletes with access to internationally recognised university degree programmes, a developmental football experience and opportunity for multiple pathways into football within a fully integrated university experience.
Designed to match top-level European development academies, it offers the opportunity to be trained by professional, UEFA ‘A; licensed coaches and exposure to professional visiting coaches from the English leagues.
In addition to their academic studies, training and games, the Academy students will benefit from other activities including coaching and referee licensing courses through UniSport’s connection to the Football Association (FA) to give them a comprehensive and professional football experience.
Dr Kiara Lewis, Head of the School of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Gloucestershire said: “This new international football academy offers an incredible opportunity for scholars to become immersed in the sport, not only sharpening their skills on the pitch but gaining qualifications in coaching and officiating.
“They will also give themselves the best possible chance of success off the field by studying on a range of high-quality Higher Education programmes at the University whilst enjoying a unique student experience here in Gloucestershire. We very much look forward to welcoming them to Team Glos!”
In June, five of the UDA coaching and student support staff visited the University’s Oxstalls Campus to tour the campus and facilities – their new ‘home’.
They met with a number of teams to talk though operations and logistics, and to discuss exciting opportunities to collaborate beyond the operation of the Academy, including placements, shadowing, lectures, research and lab work.
Brian Haley, Executive Director of UDA, who is the US-based programme’s partnership and recruitment director, said: “We are delighted to expand the opportunities by partnering with the University of Gloucestershire for international student athletes seeking a world-class degree that fits their career goals as well as offering a professional football development program that will help them reach their optimal playing potential.
“The University of Gloucestershire campus, academic programmes and faculty are outstanding and meet the mission and goals of the UDA organisation of ‘Changing Lives Through Education’.”