Soham Town Rangers are to launch a new football scholarship programme later this year in an attempt to find future players for the club.
The scheme which will be rolled out in September to coincide with the start of the new school year, will see 20 players enrol on a two-year BTEC Level Three course in sports studies.
Those on the programme will train and study during the week at the Ryman League Division One North side’s Julius Martin Lane ground, along with playing midweek for the club’s Thurlow Nunn Youth League side.
At the end of the scholarship, which entrants must have GCSE grades at c or above in both English and maths, five players will be offered a three-year contract with the club. The chosen quintet will combine their time at the club with a university degree in either sports coaching, sport science or football management.
“We are hoping that it is the way forward for the long term,” said Steve Fallon, Soham Town Rangers, manager.
“We thought about doing it last year but we weren’t quite ready so we put a bit more research into and we are happy with what we have got.
“The idea is that it gives us the chance to bring more players through and get more people involved with the club.”
Training will be overseen by former Cambridge United centre-half Fallon, his assistant manager Ian Hart, and the club’s Under-18s manager Indie Darar.
The education side of the programme will be delivered by TVS Education and overseen by Hart, who is a qualified teacher.
“During their studies the players will cover things looking at the performance of a player, coaching, sports psychology, and how to look after their body,” said Hart.
“Education is important as for those that don’t get selected this still offers them the chance to go to university.
“We are going down the mould of a professional football club and if you are going to do something like this it is worth doing it right as in the future the club wants to be higher than it is now.”
One thing Hart, who is head of coaching and Under-21 coach at Sky Bet League Two side Southend United, has warned the programme will not do is impact on grass roots junior football.
“We won’t be going around pinching players from other grass roots clubs,” said Hart.
“Those that do join will still be able to play for their Sunday team that they may have been part of for years.
“Because this is all about grass roots football we want to try and keep in with the community.”
Any player who is interested in applying for a place on the scholarship can down load forms from www.pitchero.com/clubs/sohamtownrangersfc.