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Development on and off the pitch is Newark FC's educational academy goal




A football club is hoping to develop the next generation of players through its educational academy.

Newark FC, formerly known as Newark Flowserve, is looking to double its intake for its football academy ahead of the new academic year.

Its educational football academy, a BTEC advanced diploma for students aged 16 to 18, was launched last year by head of academy Francois Zoko — a former professional footballer. The 37-year-old scored more than 100 goals across 601 games during his time in France, Belgium and England.

NEWARK FC’s joint first-team manager Steve Kirkham (left) and Craig Roche (centre) with head of academy Francois Zoko at Lowfields. Zoko also acts as a coach for the first team and is involved in helping the academy players progress into the club’s first team.
NEWARK FC’s joint first-team manager Steve Kirkham (left) and Craig Roche (centre) with head of academy Francois Zoko at Lowfields. Zoko also acts as a coach for the first team and is involved in helping the academy players progress into the club’s first team.

“With my experience, Gary Clarke (the chairman of Newark FC) provided me with the opportunity to help develop players in Newark through the programme,” said Zoko.

“Through coronavirus it has been a big challenge, and we have done well to get through the difficult periods.

“We had 13 students in that first year, and next year we are looking to more than double that.

CLASSROOM learning for first year students before the coronavirus pandemic.
CLASSROOM learning for first year students before the coronavirus pandemic.

“But the important thing is not the number of students, it is what we are teaching and how we are doing it.

“When our students finish the academic year, we want to put them in a positive place so they are more confident with their future plans.”

The sport BTEC consists of on-field learning through its football programme, but also classroom learning, which includes units such as sport development, coaching skills and health and well-being.

“We are not an academy selling a dream to make you a professional footballer, we are preparing our students to enjoy their life,” said Zoko.

NEWARK FC’s academy side during a friendly game against Bishop Grosseteste University.
NEWARK FC’s academy side during a friendly game against Bishop Grosseteste University.

“What I mean by that is that we offer two routes of success through both football and education.

“If you have some ability in football, and attend a normal college, you are closing the door on football, but it is more than possible if you are in an academy and play at a good level you are opening the door to opportunities.

“If you are very, very good, and with my contacts, you can have access to the professional clubs, and of course this is our target, we want to send local talents as far as they can go.

A training session led by head of academy Francois Zoko (44329625)
A training session led by head of academy Francois Zoko (44329625)

“This football club is going in the right direction and we want our local talent to be part of it.”

Zoko, as head of academy, leads the football development.

He currently holds an Uefa B coaching licence and is training towards his Alicence.

“Newark’s academy is my first major experience in coaching, and it is something I want to do to the highest standard because this is my first chance,” he said.

A training session led by head of academy Francois Zoko (44329629)
A training session led by head of academy Francois Zoko (44329629)

“Through my contacts we are also working with the American pathway and we have opened the doors to scholarships to American universities.”

Newark FC’s first team plays its football in the Midland Football League Premier Division, step five of the Non-League football ladder.

For more information contact the club at academy@newarkfootball.club



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