Gateshead College has been awarded the prestigious Focus College
status by the FA and British Colleges Sport for encouraging and
enabling young people to get involved in football through playing,
coaching and volunteering.
The Focus College status is the top level that can be
awarded to an FE college for their commitment to football
development provision. Only ten colleges are selected each academic
year to be a part of the programme.
Gateshead is one of only two colleges in the country which have
been named football Centres of Excellence by the FA.
Lewis Pendleton, head of sport at Gateshead College, said: "This
is an incredible achievement and demonstrates that we are a college
committed to developing football and increasing participation
across all levels.
"We provide opportunities for all of our students to get
involved in football, not just those studying sport qualifications,
and understand the benefits being active and playing team sports
can bring to young people."
The college has also joined the FA's Team 19 initiative which
encourages students aged 16 to 19 on any course to become involved
in football by organising their own college matches. Through the
project students compete nationally against other colleges through
a 'virtual' leader board system.
Gateshead College's Academy for Sport, at Gateshead
International Stadium, is dedicated to sport education and supports
students who are focussed on training towards a career in sport.
Its facilities include 3rd generation pitches and an
English Institute of Sport, Olympic-standard gym.
It has 11 specialist sport academies, including a Men's Football
Development Centre and Women's Football Academy, which support
talented students by providing them with nine hours of professional
coaching as well as performance and conditioning sessions.
The college's partnership with Gateshead FC provides
opportunities for college players to join the club's first team
coaching and training sessions, while selected elite Gateshead
College players make-up the entire Gateshead FC youth team.
Paul Bryson, head football coach at Gateshead College, added:
"Our aim is to create real opportunities for talented young
footballers to turn their skill and passion for the game into a
career. By linking with local clubs like Gateshead, Sunderland,
Newcastle and Hartlepool we are widening the possibilities for our
students to become involved in football at a professional
"We also have a three-tiered approach which means that we can
accommodate all levels of talent and have a clear progression
pathway for student footballers- starting at 'development' and
moving through to 'performance' and then 'elite'."
The college has already helped to launch the playing careers of
Darren Holden (Hartlepool FC), Scott Martindale (Hibernian FC),
Chris Basham (Bolton & Blackpool FC), Kris Thackray (Regina
FC), Adam Reach (Middlesbrough FC) and Josh Gillies (Gateshead
The college's football coaching team includes experienced and
talented individuals including Paul Bryson, a UEFA 'A' accredited
coach and Gateshead FC's assistant coach and reserve team manager
and also Sunderland AFC's academy coach; Mick Tait former player
and NUFC scout and Anthony Smith, ex Sunderland AFC player.
In addition to men's and women's football, the college has
academies in rugby, golf, netball, cricket, basketball, athletics,
boxing, rowing and swimming.