Football in Cornwall has received an incredible boost following the signing of an association between Chelsea FC Foundation and Truro and Penwith College.
College students had coaching sessions on Friday led by football legends, such as former England star Matthew Upson and Paulo Ferreira, who are completing their UEFA Coaching qualifications at Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham.
The association will see Truro and Penwith College’s football teams play in official Chelsea kits, and students and coaches in the academy will benefit from world-class training at Chelsea FC throughout the year.
Students will also take part in Chelsea FC Foundation’s annual Competitions Day where all of their college academies are invited to play.
Other footballing opportunities will follow, according to Gary Pascoe, Truro and Penwith College Football Development Manager, who is also a UEFA A licensed coach.
“We are hoping to enter a national FA youth development league so the lads will get the opportunity to play against other professional clubs,” he said.
“Some of those may go and have the opportunity to get trials with professional clubs if they are good enough.”
Shaun Gore, Head of Community at Chelsea FC Foundation said the club had investigated suitable partnerships in the region and Truro and Penwith College was the “best one around”.
“We want to associate ourselves with the best educational establishments that we can and they don’t come more highly recommended than Truro and Penwith College,” he said.
“The facilities are fantastic, we spoke to the coaching staff and I think it’s a great opportunity all around.”
Gary said he was relishing the opportunity to enhance the College’s football programme through the association with Chelsea FC Foundation, describing the association as “a perfect fit”.
“We are talking about a relationship with one of the biggest football clubs in the world, one of the most successful football clubs in recent years,” he said, speaking at Chelsea’s training ground.
“With the backing of that, with the coaching opportunities that our staff will have, to be able to come to places like this and experience what professional clubs have to offer, we can learn and we can improve as coaches, and we can then cascade that information down to the players. We are a world-class education provider and Chelsea FC Foundation will allow us to raise the standard of our football provision, to match what we have with the education side.”
The association will start with a boys programme, but Pascoe is hopeful a girls programme will be developed in the near future.
“We are also looking at the possibility of a disability programme that will run alongside the others,” he added.
“The overall aim is to improve the standard of the players and give them a better experience through their educational pathway.
“I think it will improve the standard of football both in the college and in the county, and it will give those that have the necessary desire and quality to go forward and challenge the better players around the country.”
Gore also praised the attitude of the first Truro and Penwith students and staff who attended the first training day at Chelsea’s training ground.
“They’ve been an absolute credit to the College, so polite, so spongey, really wanting to learn and I think it’s been a great day.”
“It’s great these guys have this experience, being trained by Paolo Ferrero, Henrique Hilário, Ricky Hill, Matthew Upson, all these legends within the game,” he continued.
“It’s just a great opportunity for them to get outside of Cornwall and savour Chelsea’s training ground.”
The overall aim of the relationship between Chelsea FC Foundation and Truro and Penwith College is to install good relations, and help develop and give opportunities to young people, according to Gore.
“At the end of the day we want every single player that comes into the Academy to develop to the best possible potential they have got,” he asserted.
“Whether that’s Sunday morning football or Premier League football, we just want them to get there, and if we can do that through Chelsea FC Foundation and sport then that’s what we aim to achieve.”
Falmouth Town AFC players Finn Cross and Archie Friar, who are starting at Truro and Penwith College in September, were among the first to be invited to Chelsea’s training ground following the association.
Finn said he was excited after getting the call and said the day had been “impressive” and that he wanted to “take on board what the coaches are saying, because they are a high level and hopefully I can bring that into my game and improve”.
Concurring, Archie added that “seeing all the club and players like Paolo Ferrero is pretty cool and the standard of coaching is really good.”
Pascoe said he hoped players having spent two years with the College “will not only go away as better players, but better individuals, hopefully more employable, whether that be in sport or other careers”.
The team, newly-named Chelsea FC Foundation Truro will play in the National U19 Football Youth Development League against AFC Bournemouth, Chelsea FC Foundation (Dartmoor), Cheltenham Town, Exeter City, Plymouth Argyle and Swindon Town.
“Playing in the National U19 Youth Development League will offer students the opportunity to compete against some of the best young players within the region, several of whom have already signed professional contracts,” said Gary.
“All the teams within the league are linked to professional football clubs and will be using first-class playing facilities. This competition will ensure that students are regularly challenged, which in turn will improve their technique, tactical understanding and ultimately their enjoyment of the game.”