Long: “We’ve got a great setup”

Head of Education James Long gives an update on Harriers Academy…

Head of Education, James Long [Pic (c) KHFC]

Harriers Academy offers a pathway for boys and girls aged 8-23 to navigate through their careers in sport, Head of Education James Long has been talking about that pathway and it’s success over recent years in an Academy update.

It’s a pathway that has seen several examples every year for some time now, with the players receiving opportunities to be part of our professional first team, and numerous earning contracts and progressing on to play at higher levels.

Additionally, our college and university programmes prepare individuals for a range of careers off the pitch within the sport industry as Long explains: “When an U16 comes into our college programme, we have our BTEC courses which give the opportunity to go into a wide variety of footballing and sport careers.

“That pathway really is consistent year on year with developing players to that level…” James Long, Head of Education

“A player doesn’t have to be a footballer and then a football coach, there are opportunities to go into PE teaching, physiotherapy, media, business and more, and we work with players individually on that.

“If a player has got a particular career path that they want to go into in sport then we try to navigate them in that way, and we’re quite fortunate that we have a variety of departments that can help in that way with experience, training and opportunities with apprenticeships and qualifications.

“We’ve got a system in place where a player can come in as a Junior, come into our College programme and get their qualifications, and then go on to a Foundation Degree with our partnership with University of Worcester”.

Find our more about the programmes on offer, how to apply for the next set of trials on Monday 15th February 2021 and more at 

In recent years, Harriers have prided themselves on the number of opportunities given to Academy players in a first team environment.

“There’s some great examples of some of our players; Ethan Freemantle is one of the most recent ones, he came through our Foundation Degree programme and is now in the First Team, and also Jaiden White, Tom Palmer and Luke Maxwell [who are currently in the First Team], so it’s been great to see that pathway really come into fruition in the last couple of years,” Long added.

“That pathway really is consistent year on year with developing players to that level, and if they don’t make it to the First Team, we work really hard to direct players to local teams – and even some far distance clubs – so that they’re playing at a good level, so that they don’t just leave here and become a Sunday league player as there is an opportunity to develop into semi-pro football as well”.

In December, Harriers Academy players had the opportunity to play at Aggborough Stadium as part of an internal tournament which took place throughout a recent lockdown period.

You can see what they got up to, hear from some of the players and see some dramatic moments by clicking play on the video below.

On his role and time with Harriers, Long has been proud to see the club grow.

“I’ve been here for a few years and the role has expanded as the club continues to grow,”  said Long.

“My role now covers the Juniors, right the way through to the U23s, so we’re looking at how that pathway looks and how a player from our U8s gets all the way through to the First Team.

“The whole scope for me is making sure that they’re not only enjoying their football journey, but that they’re also enjoying their education journey as well.

“We’ve got a great setup here, we’ve got some excellent facilities. Our training ground is 48 acres, it’s great to have a site that big where we can house everybody with classrooms, changing rooms and football pitches.

“One good thing that stands us apart is that we’ve got a great team. We’ve got some great coaches, we’ve got a board that supports us with Richard [Lane], Neil [Male] and Monica [Shafaq], and that’s just something that we thrive across.

“The media team really support us as well as our partnership with The Kaleidoscope Plus Group, we really feel we can offer a player anything here, whether you’re a boy or a girl.”

You can watch the full interview by clicking play on the video below.

Find out more about the programmes on offer, how to apply for the next set of trials on Monday 15th February 2021 and more at 

This article is about: Academy, Youth


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