History was made on Saturday when Mickleover Sports student Lewis Belgrave lead the first team to victory in their FA Trophy victory over Southern Premier League leaders Leamington FC.
The 17 year old is also the Derbyshire clubs Academy captain and is continuing to impress in the leagues full time education and football programme – the NPL Football Academy.
A spokesman for the NPLFA commented “To be involved in the match day squad for a first team playing in the Northern Premier League at 17 years of age is an achievement in itself, but Lewis has not only gone one step further in playing from the start, but has been given the captains armband as well, which for a player of his age in a squad of experience non-league and ex football league players is unheard of”
Belgrave joined the NPL Football Academy at Mickleover Sports in September 2015 and is currently in his final year at the Academy where he is currently studying for a BTEC Level 3 in Sport.
“Lewis has progressed under the guidance of first team and academy manager John Mcgrath since he made his debut against Darlington last October under the management duo of current Matlock Town joint managers Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood. This year he has not only been playing for the Academy on Wednesday afternoons but has been a permanent fixture in the first team and we are now starting to see him play week in week out which is an incredible achievement. Both John and fellow academy coach Andy Dales are doing a magnificent job and Lewis is not the only student there who is showing promise” a NPLFA spokesman further explained.
Twenty four students have been involved in first team squads since the NPL Football Academy was established in 2014 with a further two moving into the professional game. Mickleover who were founder members are benefitting from two years of hard work behind the scenes and seven of their students have so far made the progression from youth to senior football.
“Mickleover have had a fantastic two years so far in the NPL Football Academy, starting off with one cohort of 18 students, due to the success they now have now doubled in size and now have 40+ students and are the current NPLFA champions winning back to back titles in 2014/15 and 2015/16. In the summer they integrated the senior and youth set up by appointing academy coach John Mcgrath as first team manager who along with fellow first team player Andy Dales now work with the students every day. They have also entered a reserve side in the Central Midlands Reserve League where they are currently fourth with the majority of the team made up of former Academy students allowing them to keep the players they have developed together and to form a genuine pathway into the first team. They now have the perfect structure in place to produce more players like Lewis on a regular basis”
Only in it’s third year, the NPL Football Academy continues go from strength to strength with all clubs benefitting from running successful education and football programmes both on and off the pitch.