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HUFC Academy and HCCFE programme

25 February 2022

Hartlepool United are pleased to confirm that it is formally working with the EFL on an application to have a Category 4 Academy in place for next season.

Subject to approval of a licence, a new EFL Category 4 Academy status would see significant investment into a performance pathway that identifies and develops young players.

It will allow talented 16-18 year-olds the opportunity to train full-time with the club under UEFA licensed coaches with the ultimate aim of progressing into the first team.

Players in the programme will be paid as apprentices and will undertake a structured education programme alongside their football. The club expects to recruit 8-10 full-time apprentices for the coming 2022/23 season, with the remainder of the squad in the first season being made up from partners such as Hartlepool College of Further Education (HCFE) students, trialists and other local development pathways.

At the start of the 2020/21 season being outside of the EFL licensed academy system, and without the accompanying funding, the club formed an innovative partnership with HCFE to develop young talent alongside a programme of education for the participants.

Both the club and HCFE have been delighted with the progress and are keen to further grow the scheme which has already seen success stories such as Oscar Fletcher who was recently named in the England Schoolboys’ Under-18s squad.

This programme will continue next academic year, with a focus on education and providing a pathway for young footballers through to the Hartlepool United Category 4 Academy.

HUFC Chairman Raj Singh said: ‘’Lee [Rust] has been talking to me about the club academy model for nearly 18 months now and there has been a huge amount of work going on in the background that supporters won’t be aware of to reach even this stage.

“We believe we now have the right plan in place and it is the correct time to invest into this part of the club with a longer term view.

“Joe Grey who is currently playing in the first team and Brad Young, who transferred to Leicester City last summer, are both great examples of what can be achieved with the correct programme.”

HUFC Senior Advisor Lee Rust commented: “As a Board we have been working to move the club forward on and off the pitch in various ways. A well put together academy and youth development programme is a key piece of the jigsaw for a club like Hartlepool, given our league football status and geographical location.

“We’ve spent a lot of time reviewing EFL academy status and wider youth development programmes, looking at both the historic HUFC model and best practice examples at other clubs. We are delighted to be taking steps to re-establish EFL Academy status and what will be a high-performance pathway for young players.

“Whilst we are ambitious, it is critical that we build the clubs new model in a sustainable phased manner, and EFL status and funding should be one part of a much wider plan.

“The EFL application actually sits alongside a piece of work that the club is embarking upon with education partners, local grass roots clubs and our Community Foundation. It will take a number of years to establish but collectively these things can have an enormous impact on the club, player development and our community.

“It’s also vital that we continue to integrate and grow the fantastic pathway partnerships that have underpinned things in recent years, such as with Hartlepool College. The club owes a great deal to these partners.”

Hartlepool College’s Assistant Principal Shaun Hope said: “We are thrilled with the relationship we have developed with the football club and that is going from strength to strength. This coming year represents a really exciting opportunity for talented footballers in our area, with options for both voluntary and now paid programmes.”

“The foundations we have created through the current, voluntary programme have ensured that all aspiring footballers can match their educational goals with their footballing development and, if successful, the Category 4 status will further enhance things.”

For talented footballers in the region who would like to be part of either the proposed Hartlepool United Category 4 academy programme or Hartlepool College of Further Education’s football and education programme, please send details to enquiries@hartlepoolunited.co.uk 


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