A football scholarship programme to help youngsters “fall back in love with the game” is to be launched on the Fylde coast by Trevor Sinclair and Jamie Milligan.
Twenty five hopefuls, aged between 16 and 18, are being sought to take part in the full-time programme designed to develop youngsters into better people as well as footballers.
It is being launched in September to coincide with the new school year as a joint venture between Orange School, which provides coaching across the UK, and the two footballers.
Pundit Sinclair, who made over 100 appearances for Blackpool and went on to win 12 England caps, said: “We believe there is a shortfall in provision for late developers and lads can often slip through the net. Just look at Jamie Vardy – he could have fallen out of love with the game.
“So it’s about giving the lads some self-esteem, getting them fit and then giving them every chance to be as good as they can be. “I think a lot of youngsters are mollycoddled in academies, which can often be very suppressive. For us it’s about developing people as well as players.”
The programme will be based at Fylde RFC in Ansdell, which offers 3G as well as grass pitches, enabling league fixtures to take place.
Those on the course will also take part in a BTEC course to continue their education.
Milligan, who plays these days for Bamber Bridge while coaching Blackpool’s youth team, said he wants to offer something different.
The former Fleetwood Town skipper said: “My YTS was the best two years’ experience of my life. I will never forget it. That’s the sort of experience we’re trying to recreate. There was a great camaraderie and we have all stayed in touch. It’s the right environment to learn football.
“We offer something different to what is already provided and we’re enthusiastic. It’s not just about getting youngsters in and spitting them out at the end – it’s about moulding them as young boys and girls.”
He and Sinclair believe their many football contacts will help create a host of opportunities for those enrolled.
Open sessions will be held at Fylde RFC on Thursday and Saturday next week. More information at www.orangesoccer.co.uk. For sponsorship opportunities email firstname.lastname@example.org