Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting BOREHAMWOOD to 80360, or email us
Fostering the football stars of the future with Boreham Wood FC's PASE academy
For over a decade, a football academy has been preventing talented footballers slipping through the net and offering them the chance of a brighter future.
Boreham Wood FC has been running its Programme for Academic and Sporting Excellence (PASE) scheme since 2002.
Open to boys aged 16 to 19, the scheme offers them a chance “live and breathe” football while also giving them a solid education.
What started with 16 boys has now grown to 300, which, according to the scheme’s general manager Billy Hunter, is very unusual indeed for a football club of any size, let alone a non league club like Boreham Wood FC.
He said: “Our programme is the largest and most successful scheme of its kind in the country.
“Other schemes, especially run by league clubs, only have between 20 and 50 boys, and they might not have the same educational opportunities.”
The scheme operates at the Meadow Park site and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London in Enfield.
Head Academy coach and first team player Mario Noto said: “With other clubs, especially league clubs, the boys are given a fancy tracksuit but don’t receive the same level of care and support that we give them.”
Head coach for the Borehamwood site and the first team’s assistant manager Luke Garrard added: “How many boys on these schemes at other clubs actually make the first team?
"My role means we can offer a natural progression.
“Mario and I both play for the first team and it is wonderful to be able to play with the boys you have coached.”
The scheme offers scholars seven UEFA and FA licensed coaches and a full-time medical department that deals with player injury, rehabilitation and nutrition.
The scholars divide their days between rigorous football training and academic courses including BTECs in sport, construction qualifications and even A-Levels.
Mr Hunter added: “The education side of things is very important. If, for whatever reason, a boy is falling behind in his studies, he will not be allowed to play football until he sorts himself out.
“We are just as proud of our boys who go to university or find a good job as we are with those who become professional footballers.
“Many of our boys, unfortunately will not be good enough to make the cut as professional footballers.
“So we stress they must enjoy their football, but also take their education and future very seriously as education can be used in the wider world beyond their time at BWFC.”
The programme has been very successful over the years, with over 200 boys from the scheme now playing semi-professional football, as well as sending boys to football scholarships in America.
One of its success stories is Pelly Ruddock, who now plays for West Ham.
The academy is free and all boys have to pay for is kit, which is heavily subsidised.
The boys on the scheme are its best advocates.
Charlie Nichol, 16, who lives in Highgate, has been on the programme since September.
He said: “This scheme allows me to benefit from great coaching and excellent facilities and play as much football as I want.
“I’m doing a BTEC in sport as well and want to be a professional coach. I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to progress in something I enjoy.”
George Devies, 17, who lives in Kentish town, said: “Football is my life. This scheme allows me to play as much as I want and have the model of the elite squad to copy so I can model myself on them.”
The PASE scheme holds trials throughout the year and applications open in January for the 2014/2015 year.
Comments are closed on this article.