The Southern League Football Academy is set to nearly double in size next term after a successful inaugural season.
The SLFA kicked off in September 2019 with seven teams after the BetVictor Southern League followed in the footsteps of the Northern Premier League’s NPLFA, founded six years ago in 2014.
The Isthmian League is set to launch its own sister academy in September 2021 with the long term aim of establishing 16 club academies in each of the BetVictor sponsored competitions.
A further six teams have signed up to SLFA programme for September 2020, taking the number of clubs up to 12 in total for the forthcoming 2020/21 season. That number would have risen to 13 but for Sutton Coldfield Town moving back to the NPLFA next season.
You chose @YateTownFC student, Keane Ashwood’s brilliant freekick as your favourite goal of the month for January and February. Congratulations to Keane for his spectacular strike and to all those nominated, keep up the good work! pic.twitter.com/w6Xil6C844
— Southern League Football Academy (@SLFAcademy) March 10, 2020
Chesham United, Frome Town, Kidlington, Rushall Olympic, Sutton Coldfield Town, Swindon Supermarine and Yate Town orginally founded the SLFA prior to deliver a full-time education and football programme to students aged 16-18.
According to a Southern League statement, the new clubs joining are Berkhamsted, Bromsgrove Sporting, Evesham United, Kempston Rovers, Melksham Town and Peterborough Sports.
An SLFA spokesperson said: “We are delighted with the growth at the Southern League Football Academy and to increase the membership to 12 clubs in just two years is very exciting and satisfying.
“As with any initial launch of a new league, other league clubs will be viewing the product and progress of those clubs who first joined and we are delighted to have recently received more applications than the six clubs we look to work with per year.
“The Southern League is part of the National Programme, the Isthmian League is to be launched September 2021, and with its sister league, the Northern Premier League, we will look to establish 16 clubs in each league across the country.
“The governance involved in the leagues and being sanctioned FA leagues ensures the programme provides the required quality, management and experience for the students. We have been delighted with how the clubs have bought into such a programme and helping youngsters.”
The NPLFA and SLFA programmes are an alternative to sixth form or college, giving students the chance to study for BTEC Level 3 qualifications while training with their parents clubs and competing in their own FA sanctioned leagues.
The NPLFA now offers a higher pathway route for students in the form of a Bachelors Degree course in Sports Management and Sports Coaching, enabling students to continue their education and full time football for a further three years.
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