“An incredible opportunity for talented young people to experience the best of both worlds, from an academic perspective and a footballing one”

A new international academy programme launched at the University of Sunderland in partnership with South Shields FC offers aspiring footballers worldwide the opportunity to succeed both on and off the pitch. The South Shields FC International Academy programme commences this September, permitting players of any gender to pursue a UK degree while engaging in professional soccer development.

The programme offers a unique and customised soccer development curriculum, providing students with the chance to obtain a comprehensive and professional elite academy coaching programme from South Shields FC. They can simultaneously pursue a three-year undergraduate or postgraduate programme at the University, which has international recognition. The following degrees are available for students to choose from:

  • Sport and Exercise Science BSc (Hons)
  • Business Management BA Hons
  • Sports and Exercise Science MSc
  • Sports Journalism MA 
  • MBA (Sports Management) 

The wholly bespoke academic programme will allow students to live the opportunity of a full-time football player and receive the football club’s pro-development coaching timetable largely consisting of on-pitch sessions with a focus on decision-making skills and tactical understanding alongside individual, position-specific skills, performance analysis team and mental skills coach. As well as on-field coaching, students will also have access to professionally led strength and conditioning sessions to supplement their training. 

In addition, there will be a highly structured games programme allowing the professional development students to play for the University at regional and national level competitions, but also in a bespoke programme of games playing against professional academy teams from around the UK. 

When training with South Shields FC, students will be instructed by an experienced team of staff who have played for and coached at a variety of English Premier League clubs. The coaching team will work with players on an individual basis – players will meet with coaches to discuss and develop individual plans with a series of targets and goals, both short-term and long-term. 

Lee Picton, Sporting Director at South Shields FC, said: “We are absolutely delighted to launch the new South Shields FC International Academy programme in partnership with the University of Sunderland. 

“We are fully prepared and committed to deliver a professional footballing experience of the highest possible standard to all the young, aspiring players from around the world who access this programme. 

“Our team of on-field coaches and additional player support staff are of the highest calibre and will enable us to unlock the maximum amount of potential from the student athletes that we work with. Through our vast footballing network, we also aim to open up some incredible pathways and opportunities beyond the programme, for those players who demonstrate the ability to play at professional level once they’ve graduated from their studies. 

“All in all, this is an incredible opportunity for talented young people to experience the best of both worlds, from an academic perspective and a footballing one, and we hugely look forward to welcoming our first cohort to the north-east in September this year.”

Ian Moody, Deputy Director of International at the University of Sunderland, added: “This is a very exciting partnership between the University of Sunderland and South Shields FC. 

“The South Shields FC International Academy programme will provide international students with the opportunity to earn an internationally recognised UK qualification while also playing and training in an incredible footballing environment. We look forward to welcoming the students into our fantastic community here at the University of Sunderland.”

More information about the South Shields FC International Academy programme can be found here.

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