Gateshead FC Academy Gateshead FC Academy

We’ve teamed up with Gateshead Football Club to offer a football development programme which combines outstanding education opportunities and football excellence.

This unique programme will enable you to gain the skills, knowledge, confidence and attitude required to build a meaningful and long lasting career in the football industry.

At the Gateshead FC Academy, you will have the opportunity to represent a professional football club, playing in regional and national competitions, whilst studying for a nationally recognised qualification.

In the first two years, you will have the opportunity to showcase your ability across a number of different teams that compete in the National League Youth Alliance, ECFA, ESFA Super Cup and NECL Competitions. 

Performance squads will be categorised as U17 & U18.

Development squads will be mixed age and based on ability, and will compete in regional competitions.

Some competitions have the additional opportunities to showcase your ability at regional and national trials to represent England for either England Colleges (ECFA) or England Schools (ESFA). 

We also recommend players to represent Durham County and Durham School U18's squads.

Gateshead FC offer an additional year as an U19 player, where you will train alongside the full time professionals while competing in the National League Academy North Division against other National League clubs. 

This will give you insight into professional football and what is required to either earn a professional contract at Gateshead FC or to gain a university scholarship in the UK or abroad.

Head of Elite Performance

Ian Skinner

Ian Skinner has previously coached at clubs including Blyth AFC, Whitley Bay ‘A’ and Bedlington Terriers, and is now Head of Elite Performance at Gateshead College.

A qualified UEFA A level coach, Ian previously spent 6 years working on behalf of the County FA to develop both women’s and girl’s football in the North East region.

Ian started his football coaching career as a Newcastle Academy coach and during his tenure managed five teams, helping them to progress and develop as players. Ian has also held positions as academy lead coach at Monkseaton Football Academy and head of participation at Northumberland FA.

Connor Pani

Connor joined Gateshead College and enrolled onto the BTEC Level 3 Sports Coaching and Development while trying to pursue a career in football. He was quickly identified as a talented player, and through the link with Gateshead FC he was given opportunities to impress both Mike Williamson and Ian Watson. 

He was also selected to represent England Colleges FA scoring against Wales and Chelsea in competitive fixtures. Connor showed outstanding commitment and attitude to both his studies and football, which earned him a professional contract at Gateshead FC along with picking up a winners medal for the National League North title.

Head of Football Development

Tony Wigham 

Tony has many years of experience in professional football and has been coaching since he was 19. His career has seen him working and playing in America before returning to the North East as a Newcastle United (NUFC) academy coach. 

Tony, who has a UEFA B license and FA Youth Award, is currently working towards the UEFA A license and Advanced FA Youth Award. He has previously coached Newcastle United’s Ladies Team and, before joining Gateshead College, was head of women’s football at Park View Academy of Sport.

Alongside his Head of Football Development role at Gateshead College, Tony will continue to coach NUFC’s under 10s and under 6s.

Meet the Coaches

Arj Purewal

Arj has over 10 years’ experience in coaching, has a degree in Sports Coaching and Sport Exercise Development, and is UEFA B qualified.

He runs his own coaching business - AP Coaching - working in primary schools across the Sunderland area.

He also plays football for Consett AFC in the Northern Premier League, and is an FA Mentor in the North East for D&I.

Arj has a lot of experience of working within the football industry and has worked at Sunderland AFC with their shadow squads in the past.

Meet the Coaches

Callum Smith

Callum is UEFA B qualified and has been coaching football for the last 4 years.

He is head coach at Birtley Town Ladies, and also works alongside coaching company Andrew Cartwright FC to engage and develop younger players in the game. 

Callum signed two professional contracts, one at Newcastle United and one at Hull City before signing for numerous Northern League clubs.

Meet the Coaches

Ethan Oswald

Ethan has background in both elite youth male and elite youth female football. 

Ethan is a UEFA B licensed coach with a Master’s degree in Sport and Exercise Science.

He takes a holistic approach that ensures the students develop both as players and as people. He currently also works with Middlesbrough Academy.

Meet the Coaches

Gary Sykes

Gary Sykes has his UEFA B License, FA Youth Awards and Futsal qualification, and been involved in coaching for 25 years working with grassroot Clubs.

He has previously coached at Sunderland Girls Centre of Excellence and Sunderland FC Women’s and is currently Head of Football at Washington Association Football Club. 

An ex-student, Gary studied BTEC Sports at Gateshead College and went on to coach men’s football.

After a brief spell away to work in schools delivering Physical Education, Gary returned to the college in September 2023.

Meet the Coaches

Vince Hutton

An established coach, Vince holds a UEFA A Licence, Advanced Youth Award, and BA(Hons) Sport Studies.

As a player, he signed two professional contracts for Sunderland AFC.

He has since gone on to coach, where he has been employed as the U16 Coach at Sunderland AFC, Centre of Excellence Director for Middlesbrough AFC and Assistant Academy director for Newcastle United FC.

  • Chris Basham - Sheffield United
  • Adam Reach - Sheffield Wednesday
  • Tom White - Blackburn Rovers
  • Jon Mellish - Carlisle United
  • Dean Briggs - Brisbane FC
  • Robert Briggs - South Shields
  • David Carson - Inverness Caledonian Thistle
  • Charlie Exley - Queen of the South
  • Shaun MacDonald - Torquay
  • Elliot Forbes
  • Dan Cranston
  • Nelson Ogbewe 
  • Ryan Bolton
  • Adam Cameron
  • Connor Pani
  • Lewis Leech
  • Kyle Errington
  • Eddie Thomas
  • Oliver Thompson

Academy Success

  • Regional and National Cup Champions - 2022
  • National League U19 Alliance Division Champions - 2021/22
  • National League U19 Alliance Cup Winners - 2021/22
  • NECL Championship Winners - 2019
  • NECL League Cup Winners - 2018
  • 49 students have signed professional contracts
  • 69 students have progressed onto a scholarship programme in America
  • 19 students have played representative football (English
 Schools or English Colleges FA)