Two young footballers have their hearts set on playing for Newcastle United and thanks to SkillsActive's Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE), they are living the dream of training and playing top flight football whilst achieving outstanding grades in their academic studies at Newcastle College.
Alex Nicholson, 17 from Cramlington and his Academy team mate Louis Storey, 18 from Walkerville are both in year two of the AASE programme combined with their respective NVQ and BTEC courses.
Created by SkillsActive and funded by the Skills Funding Agency, AASE is a sports performance programme for young talented athletes. It’s designed to directly measure an athlete’s ability to plan, apply and evaluate their development in the appropriate technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of their sport. It also addresses wider issues such as lifestyle, career development, communication and health and safety.
Like thousands of teenagers across the UK, they have dreamed since their childhood of playing in the Premiership but just talking to them for a few minutes it seems their hard work and 100% commitment to both their sport and education is about to pay off.
Alex joined Newcastle United at the age of 13, now in year two of his scholarship he has already played several times for Newcastle United Reserves. He describes the AASE programme as, “perfect for me, I’m getting paid to study, play and train to be the best I can be.
Alex adds; “There is so much to learn off the pitch and the course really made me think about my career goals and not just think about playing football as you never know what is around the corner.” Alex now plans to become a football coach or PE teacher in the future.
Louis has progressed from Sunday league and County football, to joining Newcastle United on a scholarship in July 2010 and has already seen big improvements to his game, thanks to the AASE course. He explains, “I have applied the conditioning training that we learned to my personal programme to boost my overall fitness and it has really helped. I feel much fitter playing now and my confidence is increasing all the time.”
A tailored education programme relevant to their sport, is very much key to the success of the AASE programme, as highlighted by Louis’ commitment to learning: “I am really motivated to reach a distinction in each of my BTEC units and I know the better my results, the more chance I have to go to University and continue my studies. The staff and tutors have taught us so many life skills and above all an appreciation that we cannot rely on football forever, they have instilled a love for learning in my approach to life. I have also enjoyed completing the Level 2 Coaching Award and can definitely see myself coaching one day.”
Jimmy Nelson, Manager of Education and Welfare at Newcastle United says, “The AASE course is a terrific deal for any young footballer, the programme of support is second to none. I would love to turn back the clock and be an apprentice now, there really is no comparison to Apprenticeships 30 years ago, education is core to their learning as a player and making them aware of their responsibilities.”