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International football programme achieves landmark goal

An international football programme supported by University of Gloucestershire and headed up by former Football League coaches and players has achieved a landmark success.

Ty Lake (pictured) has become the first student from the UDA Soccer Academy, in partnership with US-based University Degrees Abroad (UDA), to make a first-team appearance for National League North club Gloucester City FC.

The central defender made his debut for Gloucester City in a 4-1 win over Bristol Rovers in the quarter-finals of the Gloucestershire FA Challenge Cup, while other students from the programme, Shane Pierson and Jaxson Hundt, were among the substitutes and Mikkiel Graham was involved in the training squad.

Being called up to the first team was a great opportunity and experience all around,” said Ty. “I had the chance to get on the pitch and play for quality minutes, and it was surreal being in the environment and playing at that level.”

The UDA Academy is 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 provides 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 licensed coaches and exposure to professional visiting coaches from the English leagues.

Manesh Madhu

Manesh Madhu (pictured left), International Marketing and Student Recruitment Manager (Americas and Middle East) at the University, said: “In a very short space of time, nine students have been training with the Gloucester City first-team squad, which showcases the level of playing ability within the UDA Academy.

“The UDA Academy offers an incredible opportunity for international scholars to gain qualifications from the University while also experiencing a professional football environment.”

Mal Saville, UDA Program Director, said: “This opportunity allowed the players involved to witness first-hand what they need to do after graduation, to be able to continue playing, either in Europe, or back home, perhaps in the States.

“UDA will continue to create opportunities for all our players, at various levels and wherever their individual optimal level is.”