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Bury Town, West Suffolk College and Culford School hoping to develop professional footballers

“If we don’t have players in the pro game in five years – I’d be disappointed.” There are certainly high hopes for a new football partnership between Bury Town Football Club, West Suffolk College and Culford School, which will launch in September this year.

The Bury manager Ben Chenery, former Ipswich Town star Alan Lee (head of Culford football) and head of sport at West Suffolk College, Anthony Harvey, are the people behind the new project.

Harvey said of the new venture: “We are an outstanding department – running an outstanding football provision and this will help take us to the next level.

Bury Town manager Ben Chenery. Picture: Mark Westley
Bury Town manager Ben Chenery. Picture: Mark Westley

“We consistently have students going to university and we have previously supported footballers like Nick Pope get to the Premier League. Our aim - without question – is to be the number one football academy provider in East Anglia.

“We need to get this right and then we will start expanding the programme in different directions that will incorporate women’s, disability football and other parts of the community as soon as we can.”

“Ultimately, we want to be a gold standard for education in terms of this academy. We want to create an innovative industry driven football programme that helps young people progress to university, and also produces players and coaches that will work in grassroots football all the way through to the promised land of the Premier League.

“In five years, I’d be very disappointed if we didn’t have players going into the professional game.”

Chenery, who is also the head of football at West Suffolk College, added, “We have ex-players who are qualified coaches and teachers who will be delivering this level three BTEC sport excellence qualification. It will be the perfect mix of education and playing football.

“We want a thriving integrated football academy involving everyone – that is the long term plan.

“Culford pupils will be fully involved in the academy, as they combine a passion for football with their A Level studies. Culford has a long-standing reputation of sporting excellence and working with the local community, they are delighted to be part of this new initiative.

“In terms of the academy ethos, we want to transfer education onto the football pitch. We will deliver information to our students in a way that they understand and we will give people opportunities.

“Once you get that opportunity, you will need to take ownership of it and put into practice what you’ve been taught.”

“My manager at Luton (David Pleat) used to say you can teach a good footballer one thing and he will do it 100 times.

“You can tell a bad footballer the same thing one hundred times and he will do it once. That is football in a nutshell.”

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