College forges club partnerships to develop new Academy of Football

Taunton Town FC and Bridgwater Town FC have joined forces with Bridgwater & Taunton College’s FA award-winning football programme to develop a new Academy of Football for boys aged 16 and upwards.

This exciting football partnership provides a realistic and sustainable progression route into high level non-league football and beyond, that will see the area’s most talented players able to study and train at the College either in Taunton or Bridgwater and to play for both clubs.

Jason Gunningham, Assistant Principal at Bridgwater & Taunton College said,  

“With the backing of both Taunton and Bridgwater clubs this is a high quality football pathway open to young talented male footballers across the county. It complements our elite female football provision with Yeovil Town Ladies Football Club and just like that programme, talented male players will receive the same high quality opportunities that the girls receive”.

In conjunction with the College, both Taunton and Bridgwater Town will have a combined Under 18 squad playing in the South West Youth Counties and England Colleges FA Leagues, competing against the likes of Forest Green Rovers, Salisbury City, Exeter and Bristol. Players can then progress into Somerset senior and Western League football via Bridgwater Town’s reserve and first team squads and then through to the Southern League with Taunton Town. 

The new partnership is championed by Taunton Town FC Chairman, Kevin Sturmey, who said,

“We are using ‘joined up thinking’ to help young footballers to stay in football into their early twenties. The drop out in football between 16 and 21 is huge as often the realism of becoming a professional footballer or even semi-professional is not explained to players. Education is also vital and with the College now having the University Centre Somerset, young people now have an opportunity to dovetail their football and education with realistic goals for a longer period than ever before without leaving the area.”

Bob Buckingham, Vice Chairman of Bridgwater Town FC, echoes those sentiments and said,

 “We are delighted to support this initiative from our longstanding partners at Bridgwater & Taunton College. The area is blessed with a wealth of young talent that will now have opportunities to test themselves in the semi-professional game which, in turn, will bring much future success to our clubs.”

Many of the fixtures will take place at Bridgwater Town or Taunton Town FC. Players will be supported by sports conditioning, sports therapy and performance analyst experts and their progress will be monitored throughout the programme by UEFA A and UEFA B licensed coaches.  

The Academy of Football is open to students of Bridgwater & Taunton College and there will be a trial period within the first two weeks of the academic year in September.

For more information please email Mason Galloway gallowaym@bridgwater.ac.uk or Tom Sage saget@bridgwater.ac.uk or call them on 01278 455464.