Pre-season in the ESPFA gets underway next week when current students and those hopefully joining in September get together for the first time as a squad to prepare for the forthcoming season alongside working towards their BTEC in Sport Level 3 qualification.
33 former, current and even new students have been involved this pre-season for the first teams they represent so far as they look to impress and gain a place in the squad for the 2021/22 season which gets underway in a few weeks.
In the ESPFA Lancashire, Northern Division team of the year students Josh Niblock and Danny Feeley along with Nathan Carnell have all appeared for Skelmersdale United in the St Luke’s Cup, a tournament between fellow North West Counties (Step 5 and 6) sides Runcorn Town, Sandbach United and Winsford United. All three students who have completed their two years on the BTEC programme this summer will be hoping to continue their footballing education and make their competitive debut for the club this season.
Two students from ESPFA Greater Manchester have been involved heavily in Mossley AFC’s pre-season. Second year leaver Tcherno Djalo who was also named in the Northern Division’s team of the year and first year student Isaac Lopes who was named Mossley AFC’s player of the year have both impressed in games against Chadderton, Golcar United and Avro.
Carl Clarkson, an ESPFA West Yorkshire student with Ossett United who swept up at the recent 'ESPFA Awards Show' has been involved for the Sheepicorns against EFL League One giants Sheffield Wednesday and fellow non-league sides Atherseley Rec and Goole AFC.
Staying with ESPFA West Yorkshire, former student Jamie White, first year student James Campbell and new student joining in September Bobby Hamer all took part in the Yorkshire Trophy for Brighouse Town AFC.
ESPFA Cheshire students Kai Philpott and Taylor Kelly who represented Runcorn Linnet’s last season have gained first team experience with local rivals Widnes FC. Philpott, another Northern Division team of the year inclusion and former Liverpool FC Academy midfielder Kelly have boosted their footballing development with mens football which will stand them in good stead for their second year on the ESPFA programme.
At ESPFA Derbyshire, a number of students have represented the respective first teams of Belper Town and Mickleover FC. First year student Toby Foulke played around 60 minutes for the Nailers against Walsall FC Academy and Fin Bowen, Josh Satchwell, Bobby Battison, Fin Barker, Jake Edge-Lucas, Ethan Mann and George Atwal have all been involved in Sports’ games against Sheffield FC and Clipstone FC. Atwal has also spent time on trial at EFL Championship side Stoke City when scouts invited down by the ESPFA to the national finals were impressed with the midfielders performances. Fellow first year student Louis Pennington is also involved but has not played yet due to injury.
Across the East Midlands at ESPFA Nottinghamshire and recent leavers Jack Cockram, Dan Flint and Sonny Shaw have all been involved for Carlton Town against Basford United, Dunkirk FC and Merthyr Town. Cockram who was named in the Midlands Division team of the year had his name on the scoresheet against Dunkirk but unfortunately was ruled out for offside.
With a 10 out of 10 record last season, it was inevitable that some ESPFA Buckinghamshire students at Chesham United would progress to first team opportunities and Blaaze Lawrence and Dan Hosier have been offered that chance. Lawrence who has just completed the programme and Southern Division goalkeeper of the year Dan Hosier played a big part against Amersham in a 4-4 draw. Lawrence scored the first goal to put the General’s 1-0 up and Hosier saved two penalties to secure the win via a penalty shootout. Lawrence gained another 30 minutes against Premier League newcomers Watford FC.
Steven Soares who was named the Southern Division player of the year played 45 minutes for ESPFA Oxforshire associated club Kidlington FC against step 6 side Milton United. Steven will be moving to the US on a scholarship next year and will be hoping to gain further experience this season.
At ESPFA South Gloucestershire, five students have been heavily involved for Yate Town. First year students Kylan Mapstone, Liam Jones and Natalio Stella joined Southern Division golden boot winner Sam Archer and new student Dylan Venn with appearances against Risca United, Roman St George and Slimbridge.
Finally, ESPFA Somerset students Luke Johnson and Tom Roberts have impressed for Frome Town FC in games against Hallen FC and Weston Super-Mare. Johnson was named the Robin’s player of the year last season and Roberts will be joining the programme in September.
Since 2014, we have had 63 students make their competitive debuts (friendlies not included) but introducing this season, we will also be highlighting students who have progressed to other clubs at step 5, 6 and 7 in the pyramid which is an fantastic achievement at such a young age. (Step 1 is National League, step 2 is National League North/South, step 3 is Northern Premier League, Southern League and Isthimian League premier divisions and step 4 is the first divisions)
From what we are aware of so far, Southern Division team of the year nominee Madison Wilkin has been playing for step 5 side Risborough Rangers whilst his teammate Alfie Osbourne has played two full games for Amersham Town at step 6.
ESPFA Oxfordshire students Archie Pepper, Alex Neale, Ellis Matthews and Tyla Fletcher were all involved for Kidlington FC reserves who play at step 6 against Aston Clinton FC.
Joe McGrogan, a former Swindon Supermarine student has played for Fairford Town in the step 5 Hellanic League in games against the RAF and Durseley.
Sam Pipes, a first year student at ESPFA Derbyshire is part of AFC Mansfield squad for the forthcoming season at step 5 and national goalkeeper of the year Joey Oldham who was with Radcliffe FC has signed for step 5 North West Counties side Alsager Town.
Congratulations to all students for their footballing progression.
We will bring more news of development pathways at all levels once we are informed. (Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any news)