TALENTED young footballers will have an extra chance to plot a pathway into football as East Durham College launches a new academy supported by Hartlepool United.

The college, in Peterlee, was recently unveiled as Pools’ new training base for all age groups, from the academy right through to the first team.

As part of that partnership, an all-new East Durham College team is to be introduced, with players who are part of that squad gaining access to high-level football coaching as well as continuing their education.

Former Sunderland defender Darren Holloway will lead the team of 16 to 18 year olds, while coaching sessions will also be delivered by former Pools star Gus Di Lella, who played for the club in the 1990s.

The team will also benefit from rubbing shoulders with Pools’ first team, academy players and coaches.

The squad will compete in the North East Colleges League during 2018/19 and each player will receive:

l The chance to train alongside the Hartlepool United players;

l Eight hours of coaching from UEFA-qualified coaches;

l Free training kit jointly branded East Durham College and Hartlepool United;

l Onsite physiotherapy;

l Incentivised tickets for Hartlepool United home fixtures.

Enrolling on the course and joining the squad could provide a pathway into professional or semi-professional football, with first team management and scouts regularly monitoring players’ progress.

There will also be the option for youngsters to move towards university with a foundation degree or seeking a career in coaching, sport, leisure and fitness.

Mark Maguire, Hartlepool United chief executive, said: “This is a fantastic initiative which further cements our partnership with East Durham College.

“It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we will spot players who will then be asked to come across to our academy set up – our staff will certainly be closely watching the players.

“The coaching delivered by the college is exceptional and it will be a great day when the first college squad member pulls on a first team shirt at Victoria Park.”

Search ‘EDC Football Academy’ on Facebook for information on how to get involved.