LOCAL hero Lee Clark says talented young Tyneside footballers have a golden opportunity to thanks to the launch of an elite Football Academy in a Tyneside school.
Walker Riverside Academy has teamed up with Improtech Soccer – the leading provider of Football in Education in England – to provide elite coaching for talented prospects during school hours.
And former Magpie midfielder Clark, who grew up just a few hundred yards away from the school, said: “I wish there had been something like this when I was a lad – the chance to focus on and develop your football skills inside school – how great is that?
“For young players across Tyneside dreaming of one day becoming a professional footballer, there will now be the chance to chase that dream at school with professional football coaching while also getting an education.”
Improtech training is devised to UEFA Pro Licence standard – the highest level of coaching in the game – with hundreds of sessions which emphasise individual improvement and team understanding.
The company has an excellent track record of developing young players to the level where they are taken on by professional football clubs including Newcastle United, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Stoke City, Hull City and a host of non-league clubs.
The Walker Academy is currently recruiting players who will be Year 7s in the 2019-20 academic year.
Clark was born in Walker, a tough, working-class area of Newcastle where opportunities used to be few and far between.
But he says he is impressed with the Academy and delighted it will now become a centre for footballing excellence.
A youth star who became a regular in the Keegan era and went on played more than 200 games for the club, scoring 24 goals, Lee said: “Newcastle and the North East has always been a hotbed of football, and Academies like this will help make the most of that talent.
“It’s good for the area, it’s good for the city but most of all it’s good for the young players who have this opportunity.
”The North East has always been a place where good young players emerge, but I think we could get even more players coming through with football academies of this quality.
“It can only improve the chances of young players from the city making the most of their game.”