YOUNGSTERS will get more opportunities to net their playing and career goals after a school and two football clubs signed a new deal.

King James I Academy, Bishop Juniors FC and Shildon AFC have teamed up to give young people new paths into education, football and apprenticeship opportunities in the travel industry.

Shildon AFC, which hopes to win promotion to the Northern Premier League, will become official partners of Bishop Juniors, which when combined with its own Development Centre will see more than 350 young people associated with the club.

Players from Bishop Juniors will get the chance to feed into Shildon's team – with two of Bishop Juniors Under 17s making their first team debuts already this season.

Shildon AFC’s official training facilities are now located at King James I Academy, in Bishop Auckland, where players have access to strength and conditioning suites, classrooms, football pitches and the 3G pitch.

The partnership has been described as a long-term commitment which will see the development of a post-16 Football Academy.

Scholars will get to take advantage of coaching from ex-Northern League players and coaches, strength and conditioning, video analysis and the opportunity to train with the first team.

A Shildon reserve side will be created from a new adult team at Bishop.

And the facilities at both King James and at Shildon's Dean Street ground will be improved.

David Dent, chairman of Shildon AFC, said: “This is a really exciting partnership which gives the club access to a unique junior set up whose emphasis is very much on player development delivered by UEFA B coaches.

“It also allows us to put in place very real player pathways and we have already seen Bishop Juniors players join our first team squad.

“King James I Academy provides us with not only a first-class training base, but also a Football Academy that will provide talented young footballers with the opportunity to be part of the first team and reserve teams that we are planning to create.

“It’s not just about football.

"Our partnership with Hays Travel and our plans for a Travel Academy based at King James will provide young people with guaranteed interviews with Hays and the opportunity to develop their career with the fastest growing independent operator within the travel industry.”

Nick Grieveson, head teacher at King James I Academy, said: “We welcome the opportunity to be able to work in partnership with Shildon AFC, Hays Travel and Bishop Juniors in order to provide our students with even more exciting, educational opportunities.

“We very much appreciate the support provided by two high profile clubs and by Hays Travel. Students now have the opportunity to develop their careers in football and travel and to pursue their ambitions from a young age.

“I am sure that our partnership will help to support the next generation of young people on their way to successful futures in two growing industries with organisations that epitomise the best of the North-East.”

Darren Tait, club secretary and football development officer for Bishop Juniors FC, said: “We have had a very close working relationship with King James I Academy for over four years now, and this has been extremely beneficial for both parties.

“The opportunity to further develop with this new partnership with Shildon AFC is really exciting for us all.

“After our first conversation I was very impressed with the Shildon chairman and his ambition, but more importantly, the genuine plans he has in place at the club.

“We are hoping that the planned formation of our adult team, which will serve as a Shildon reserve team, will also offer young players a realistic pathway into adult football.’’