Berwick Rangers Chairman Len Eyre has become the latest club official to register his excitement about the prospect of launching Berwick Rangers Football Academy.

Eyre, who was in attendance of the first scheduled academy presentation on Tuesday evening stated: “The turnout of twelve prospective students for the first presentation from Northumberland Education exceeded both my own and the Football Club’s expectations.

Eyre is in his first year as club chairman and is delighted with the Academy plans
Eyre is in his first year as club chairman and is delighted with the Academy plans

“The presentation by tutor Simon Dutson, who will be in charge of the Academy, was excellent. He explained the pros and cons fully to the students and their parents which were received very favourably.

Expanding on the structure of the course, Eyre continues: “The time table for the course is yet to be set in stone, but there will be four days studying modules, with 6 hours Football Training and Coaching by Berwick Rangers staff included in their timetable. The fifth day will then be spent playing competitive football matches against other Colleges in the Northern College League.

“The students will have a full education curriculum. The course will be provided by Northumberland College, and take place in the JB Lounge at Shielfield Park and at Educational Facilities in Berwick. There will also be guest tutors available when required for certain subjects.”

With club captain Jonny Fairbairn already confirming both himself and the club’s first-team manager John Coughlin have put themselves forward to carry out guest sessions, students can look forward to guest coaching as well as tutoring.

In order to run the course, the club must find a minimum of 14 students ahead of the new academic year, a figure which would allow the Academy to field a team in the aforementioned College League.

“The Academy requires at least 14 students aged between 16 and 18 to sign up with their parents’ consent to enable the course to go ahead.

“There will be further presentations and discussions at Shielfield Park in the Jeff Burnlees Lounge in the coming weeks cumulating in the enrolling of the students in early September.

“After discussions with Simon Dutson it was decided to make these presentations on Wednesday Evenings. The presentations will be held on:

  • Wednesday 17thAugust at 6pm
  • Wednesday 24th August at 6pm
  • Wednesday 31st August at 6pm

“By holding the remaining presentations on Wednesdays, both the Berwick Rangers manager John Coughlin and club captain Jonny Fairbairn will be able to be present to answer any questions regarding the Football Training and Coaching side of things.”

The opportunity to learn about and get involved in the sport industry via Northumberland College’s Sport Diploma course is a clear benefit for prospective students, but Eyre also reveals that studying with the club could lead to doors opening in football.

“After the students complete the course, there’ll be a wealth of options. Completion will enable them to enrol at University to further their education in their chosen path in sport or discipline, whether that be education, coaching, physiotherapy, science, development or otherwise.

“And whilst we hope that the course will allow students to broaden their prospects and open up opportunities to work in the sport industry, we’re also keen to cater for those looking for a pathway into playing football.

“We’re implementing that pathway via the introduction of Berwick Colts, and there will be the potential for progression for our students through to our Under 20’s side, from where a number of players have graduated to our first-team, including the likes of Jonny himself and Darren Lavery amongst others.

Eyre hopes the Academy could help the club spearhead a bid to bring a plastic pitch to Berwick-upon-Tweed
Eyre hopes the Academy could help the club spearhead a bid to bring a plastic pitch to Berwick-upon-Tweed

“With John (Coughlin) involved throughout the course, he’ll be able to keep a close eye on our students as players, meaning any talented youngsters will have the chance to impress him on a regular basis.”

Eyre finishes: “Any students who are Sport-minded and eager to continue their education should come along to the next presentation on Wednesday 16thAugust at 6pm to see what it is all about.

“My opinion of the proposed Berwick Rangers Football Academy is that it will benefit young students of Berwick and District aged between 16 and 18 immensely.

“On a club-levl, I also see the Academy as a prospective vehicle to pursue the funding for the installation of an all-weather playing surface at Shielfield, which would benefit the whole Community.”

Prospective students who would like further details should contact:

Simon Dutson: e-mail simon.dutson@northland.ac.uk OR Jonny Fairbairn: e-mail jonnyfairbairn10@gmail.com.

Alternatively, application forms are available from Northumberland College via download here. Prospective students should send their application to to either Berwick.centre@northland.ac.uk or by post to Berwick Rangers or Northumberland College, Adams Drive, Spittal, TD15 2JF, though prospective students are advised to attend a presentation to learn more about the course first.