Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Academy's Smart Route to Semi-Finals

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Academy's Smart Route to Semi-Finals

Article excerpt

NORTH Shore Academy is celebrating after its under-15 team reached the semi-finals of the English Schools' Football Association Cup.

The Stockton-based team played Stretford Grammar School at a match in Manchester and faced Ellesmere Port High School in the semi-finals over the weekend.

They lost 3-2, but vice principal Michael Burns explained that while the school has fielded an under-15 side for many years, this is the first season this team has played together and it is a major triumph for them to become one of the top three teams in England so soon.

Their success to date has been forged with the help of Footsmart, which is an initiative developed to offer an alternative route to education for those who are in danger of becoming disengaged.

This is the first time that Footsmart has been implemented at secondary level which makes the team's success all the more exciting, said Mr Burns, who decided to get the team up and running.

He said: "These are great lads and it is really satisfying that they have done so well.

"We are delighted with their performance and conduct and it is still great news for them to get this far.

"Because they are inexperienced as a team we do think that if they had been able to play at home, the result may have been different, but it is still a great achievement - not just for the school but for the community as a whole.

"It really lifts aspiration and creates a sense of pride in the neighbourhood."

The team faced sides from Carlisle, Yorkshire, Manchester and Newcastle and impressed professional coaches with scouts from Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Sunderland watching all the games.

This resulted in one player, Kai Martin, being given a six-week trial at Hartlepool while Charlie Tinkler and Gareth Basham have been given the opportunity to try out at Middlesbrough. …

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