MARGATE Football Club and the Hartsdown Academy have joined forces to create the district's first football academy.
The partnership, called the Thanet Football Academy, was revealed exclusively to the Gazette on Wednesday afternoon by Margate CEO Cliff Egan and Hartsdown Academy principal Andy Somers.
The scheme will be led by Margate's head of football in the community and former midfielder Wayne Wilson along with staff from Hartsdown Academy.
The idea behind the scheme is to give youngsters the chance of hitting the big time in football but also gaining academic qualifications equivalent to three A levels to go along with it.
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Days will be split in football training in the morning at Hartsdown Park and vocational lessons in the afternoon at the Academy campus.
Courses available academically will be BTEC Extended Diplomas in Sports Coaching, Fitness and Development and smaller courses in first aid, child protection, child welfare and football coaching badges.
The first intake in September will have 20 scholars on the books and demand is expected to exceed the number of places.
On a momentous day both for Margate FC and the Hartsdown Academy, Margate CEO Cliff Egan said that this is the start of a great future for both parties.
He said: "The club have been wanting to do something like this for a long time and to finally have this partnership in place is fantastic.
"This is a local partnership and we want to keep it local to Thanet. Opportunities are limited in this area for youngsters today but hopefully the academy will give some of the kids an opportunity for a great career.
"If the football doesn't work out for them they will have the qualifications and the life skills to fall back on."
Hartsdown Academy principal Andy Somers added that school are extremely excited about teaming up with Margate FC for many years to come.
Mr Somers said: "We do a lot of work with the club already but this partnership will take it to the next level.
"As an Academy we are absolutely delighted to be working with Margate and with Wayne. The facilities here at Hartsdown Park are fantastic and the scholars will also use our state-of-the-art IT facilities at the campus.
"We want to give local youngsters the best opportunity in life and coming together through football is a brilliant idea.
"We know that it is going to be a great success."
The man in charge of running the Government-funded scheme is Wayne Wilson.
He said that he can't wait to start working with the students and see them make progress in the scheme.
He said: "I am extremely excited, I can't wait to get going.
"It is a great chance for kids to learn not only about football but also get some qualifications and life skills at the same time."
There will be an open day at Hartsdown Park on July 16 and anyone aged between 16 and 19 can turn up to decide who will be the lucky first 20 scholars.
On the day, students will fill in an academic assessment form and then a football trial will be arranged for a later date.
For more details call the club on 01843 221769.