A former Gateshead College student who will play in the Premier League next season is helping to develop the next generation of soccer stars.
Versatile defender Chris Basham, who last season won promotion to England’s top division with Sheffield United, completed Gateshead College’s football development programme in 2006 before going on to secure professional contracts with Bolton and Blackpool.
Now looking forward to life in the Premier League with The Blades, Chris returned to the college to deliver a football masterclass on its new 3G pitch to the current first team squad. He gave students an insight into what it takes to be a professional footballer and held an intensive skills session.
Originally from Hebburn, Chris said: “It’s always great to return to my roots and give something back to the community that shaped me. Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport was instrumental in my development, both as a footballer and as a person. The coaches went out of their way to help me and I’ll always be grateful for that.
“It would be great to see some of these students come through the ranks and get a professional contract with a club after finishing their studies. There’s some real talent here at the football academy and I’m happy to do anything I can to help their development.”
Based at Gateshead International Stadium, the Academy for Sport is home to nine specialist academies in men’s and women’s football, basketball, athletics, boxing, cricket, golf, netball and rugby. It offers students the chance to hone their sporting talents while studying for a nationally recognised qualification. They can study a full-time school-leaver programme in sport or any other subject, including A Levels, and become a member of the football academy while developing the knowledge and expertise they need to start an apprenticeship, go to university or get a job.
Gary Middleton, head football coach at Gateshead College said: “We’re really grateful that Chris took time out of his busy schedule to give our students the benefit of his experience. That’s what we do at this college; we don’t just help students get a qualification, we give them opportunities to learn from talented professionals who’ve reached the top of their game.
“Chris is one of many former students who’ve come through our men’s and women’s football academies and gone on to have a successful playing career. We also support people who perhaps don’t aspire to become a professional but who want to get a job in the sports sector.”