Cambridge United and Cambridge Regional College partnership continues to flourish

PUBLISHED: 23:45 09 March 2017 | UPDATED: 23:45 09 March 2017

Cambridge United and CRC are celebrate their long-term partnership.

Cambridge United and CRC are celebrate their long-term partnership.

Iliffe Media Ltd

Duo work together to boost prospects on and off the pitch

Cambridge United and Cambridge Regional College have a partnership that goes back a long way.

The two organisations started working together back in 2005, and while there have been highs and lows for the club during that time, there have only been highs in the relationship between the duo.

The long-running collaboration was celebrated at United’s match with Doncaster Rovers, when representatives were welcome to the match to mark the flourishing partnership that has allowed the club to nurture individuals both on and off the field.

The link between the U’s and CRC continues to provide youngsters with a growing number of opportunities to work across the sports industry.

Currently Cambridge United’s futsal scholarship programme and shadow scholarship programme are both delivered in conjunction with CRC, with all players within those programmes studying for a Level 3 diploma in sport.

This allows young players to continue honing their abilities as footballers or futsal players with Cambridge United, but more importantly helps them to develop as young individuals by becoming multi-skilled citizens.

The partnership ensures that for the majority who are unlikely to craft a professional playing career in football, they are equipped with a qualification that provides a pathway into either further education or full-time employment.

Former Cambridge United scholar and first-team player Darryl Coakley found the qualification he gained during his time studying as part of the partnership between the club and the college was a huge benefit when later applying to study for a degree in psychology at university.

Coakley has now returned to Cambridge United to work as the club’s NCS co-ordinator.

He said: “Without the link between CRC and Cambridge United at the time that I was a scholar, I would not have been able to go on and apply for university. It gave me the necessary grades to submit a successful application.

“It was also great for me at the time, studying at the football club when my ambition was to become a professional football player.

“I’m sure it was slightly challenging for the CRC teachers to come into a classroom full of young lads who just wanted to play football, but I always found the lessons interactive and engaging, and I gained the education that I needed.

“Now I’ve returned to Cambridge United to co-ordinate the club’s National Citizenship Service programme, the roles have reversed.

“As part of the NCS programme, we use the futsal scholars and shadow scholars to further develop their life skills.

“So I’ve gone from being a recipient of what CRC and Cambridge United offered to delivering it on behalf of the club.”

Similar to Coakley, former Cambridge United scholars Jordan Collins and Joe Bennett also used their qualifications to pursue further education.

Collins is studying a law degree and Bennett achieved a degree in sports studies, with both now returning to the club as full-time employees of Cambridge United’s academy.

Bennett said: “I enrolled in the National Diploma in sport and exercise course at part of my scholarship. The academic nature of the course accompanied my football development and I gained a greater understanding of the physical and nutritional requirements of playing football.

“The CRC tutors helped me to secure a place at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, where I achieved a 2:1 in management studies.

“Upon completing the UEFA B award, I returned to Cambridge United as a coach.

“As part of my role now I work with one of my former tutors, Tom Hall, as a coach on the first year shadow scholarship programme.

“I also work with the club’s under 10’s academy players and with the Cambridge University squad.

“CRC and Cambridge United have been instrumental in aiding me along my educational pathway, as well as providing me with a knowledge and understanding in my desired field of work.”

The link between CRC and Cambridge United also provides an excellent opportunity for young sports coaches to gain full-time employment at the club.

Development coaches Rogan McGeorge, Charlie Woolfe, Charlie Rome, David Ramjee and Charlie Brown all now deliver sessions across the U’s community sport and school sport programmes, as a result of their studies and the close link between CRC and Cambridge United.

Charlie Brown studied the Level 3 diploma in sport and the partnership between CRC and the club helped his pathway to his current full-time position.

“I really enjoyed my time at CRC and the course allowed me to the build the contacts with Cambridge United in the school holidays, by experiencing coaching at various camps and programmes,” said Brown.

“I was able to build links with Cambridge United, gain confidence in my abilities a coach which has allowed me to go on and get a full-time job at the club.

“As part of my role now I deliver a wide range of sports to children within primary schools across Cambridgeshire and it isn’t just football. Sports include dodgeball, yoga, gymnastics, futsal, hockey, fencing, archery. I’ve even delivered African Gumboot dancing!

“I was enlightened to so many thing whilst at CRC and I’ve learnt how best to engage when coaching.”

Finally, Cambridge United shadow academy manager Jake Hammond, who works closely alongside Cambridge Regional College to deliver the shadow scholarship programme, feels the link is a key part of the U’s philosophy in developing young people.

He said: “Working with CRC to deliver the shadow scholarship scheme among other programmes, fits with the club’s holistic approach to ensure that every young person improves their qualities as an individual.

“Cambridge United recognises that the pathway into professional football taken by the likes of Harry Darling and Leon Davies in recent months, is likely to occur for only a small proportion of those within the club’s youth development pyramid.

“The partnership with CRC therefore allows us to aim more realistically at producing young people capable of reaching their potential in whatever pathway they choose to pursue.

“The scheme combines football and education, to develop hard working, multi-skilled and talented citizens.”

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