The 2021/22 season has been a successful year so far, building on the long lasting relationship with Colchester United Football in the Community has with Thurstable School.
The programme this year has grown to a squad of twenty-eight players enabling the expansion of the programme to accommodate two teams who compete in the EFL Community & Education Football Alliance representing Colchester United.
We have had great success over the years in developing individuals both on and off the pitch within their studies, qualifications or employment and as footballers. The programme consists of a full time training programme, providing a professional environment and opportunities for players to develop all areas of their game (Technical, tactical, physical, character and mentality) whilst being a student and getting the opportunity to study A Levels or BTEC qualifications at Sixth Form and the University of Essex.
Our programme prides its self on the pathways it provides for these young people within football with seven members of the squad already playing senior football this season and its employment and volunteering pathway, with ten members of the current squad undertaking their FA Introduction to Coaching qualification and volunteering within community programmes. One member of the squad has achieved part time employment with the club alongside his playing and educational commitments.
Owen Cookson shared; “Joining the Football College Programme has really supported me in my development on and off the pitch. It has allowed me to undertake my coaching qualifications, gain experience as a volunteer on community programmes on evenings, weekends and in school holidays, that all has allowed me to earn a part time job coaching with the club alongside my studies. The support I get from my Coaches is brilliant and I’m learning everyday on and off the pitch that will support me in my aim to get into coaching full time following my studies on the programme.”
Head Coach and former Colchester United First team Player Louis Dunne explained; “It’s been excellent to coach the squad day in day out, its enhanced myself as a coach and a leader, but to really see the boys enjoying the experience every day being under the Colchester united bracket, it’s been extremely satisfying to be a part of.”
The season so far has been a rollercoaster on the pitch with Colchester United ‘A’ with six games left are in fifth position out of eight teams, five points off the top of the table with a game in hand against clubs such as AFC Wimbledon, Fulham and Norwich City. Every player has had the opportunity represent the ‘A’ team and it is exciting for the boys to be in this position and apply tactically and mentally what we’ve been working on the training pitch in preparation for games. However, most importantly it is to see their buzz as they look forward to playing each Wednesday afternoon.
Colchester United ‘B’ have come up against challenges against clubs such as Chelsea, Brentford and an Essex derby against Southend United. We currently sit in seventh out of nine in the table and the boys have certainly shown so much signs of improvement in every match they play, pushing Chelsea all the way in a thrilling encounter a few weeks ago.
There is big development plans in place for the next academic year as the programmes relationship with the Club’s Academy enhances and all aspects of the programme expands. With sixty-five players registering their interest to join the squad for the 2022/23 season, more young men will get the opportunity to develop themselves as players, students and people on the Colchester United Football College Programme.
Are you in Year 11 or 12, a talented footballer and looking for further opportunities to develop on the pitch and your studies and educational/employment opportunities off it?
Contact Louis.Dunne@colchesterunited.net for more information.