Ballymena United FC Manager encourages school leavers to consider all options

The manager of Ballymena United Football Club has encouraged school leavers to consider all available options before deciding their next step.

Northern Regional College has ‘teamed up’ with the IFA premier league club to deliver a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development (Ballymena United Academy).

The Academy combines a professional training programme with an accredited qualification to give talented young footballers an exciting opportunity to develop, both on and off the football pitch.

The BTEC Extended Diploma is the equivalent of three A-levels. It’s a vocational course with a strong focus on improving employability in the areas of sports coaching, development, and/or administration.

David Jeffrey, manager and head coach of Ballymena United Football Club

It also provides an alternative pathway to university for sports related degrees, for example, sports psychology, coaching and management.

Encouraging young people with an interest in football to consider the course, David Jeffrey, manager, and head coach of Ballymena United, said: “As a club, we realise the importance of developing young players, but this should not be at the expense of their academic development.

“The Level 3 Diploma is a great opportunity for school leavers to combine the two and work with other young people with the same interest in football. It’s the academic equivalent of 3 A levels so it’s not an easy option but it’s a worthwhile course and worth considering.

“I was not afforded such an opportunity. I wish I had.”

Northern Regional College has ‘teamed up’ with the IFA premier league club to deliver a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development (Ballymena United Academy)

Introduced in September 2021, the Level 3 Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development is a two-year full-time course.

Course details were outlined to prospective students at an information session held recently at Ballymena Showgrounds.

Course co-ordinator is Sports lecturer, Julie Alexander, who is also Strength and Conditioning coach with Ballymena United, explained: “The course is aimed at skilled young players with aspirations to play at a semi-professional or professional level. They will study modules that will maximise their potential to play professionally and help them pursue a career in coaching, football development or administration.”

Julie added that, while the course will be delivered at Ballymena Showgrounds, it is open to players from all clubs and that both male and female players are welcome to apply.

Julie continued: “Academy players will an immersive experience with a professional football club with access to its training facilities.”

The training programme will include skills development and strength and conditioning sessions by Ballymena United and College staff to accelerate their development as players.

This in turn will open opportunities for them, for example, a professional contract or a sports scholarship to study and play football in the United States.

Applications are now open for full-time and part-time courses at Northern Regional College. For further information go to www.nrc.ac.uk