With the aim of uniting football and academic excellence, Beechwood School have created an Elite Football Programme headed up by Director of Football, Greg Thurstans and Head of Coaching, Matthew Rose. We find out all about it…

Who will the programme be open to?

The programme is open to boys and girls seeking a top football education to run parallel with their education. It is for players who are of minimum standard seeking an opportunity to better themselves.

What inspired you to set up the programme?

The opportunity to bring two areas of expertise together from education and the world of football and create a bespoke football development programme aimed at developing the individual whilst ensuring a good education. This is very much in line with Beechwood School’s philosophy and why the school is a perfect fit.

Tell us about the football experience you bring to this project.

Greg set up an elite football programme over eight years at Royal Russell School, which had huge success. Having played at Chelsea until 21 and not making the grade he realised the importance of education within sport. Matthew is an ex-pro football player for Arsenal, QPR and Yeovil — making over 300 appearances. He also coached for Arsenal and most recently was assistant head coach at Barnsley FC in the championship, helping them survive on the last day of the season.

What has changed in the world of football since you played as a youngster?

The biggest changes have been that the speed of the game has increased with the need now for greater awareness. Players have now become much more physical and faster with the introduction of sports science.

What do you love about training new talent?

The beauty of development coaching is seeing the journey a player makes, not just as a football player but also as a person. Whilst helping improve the player’s strengths and weaknesses you are also educating them on taking ownership of their career.

What sets this programme apart from similar projects? 

The biggest differential and what makes this project unique is the standard of coaches and that this program is solely focused on developing the individuals, unlike other programmes whose focus is purely game orientated.

How will the training fit around other lessons?

There are two types of programmes, integrated into a student’s academic schedule. 16-18 which is a full-time programme and a program for the younger years. Samples of a typical week for a younger player would be that a student would have a 1:1 once a week, a sports science session plus 2 more training sessions.  Games are carefully selected to ensure the right exposure for players. 

What outcomes are you hoping for?

The way we will judge success is when we see players that have successful outcomes. Whether that be professional football, scholarships to other countries or top universities. It will not be based on winning matches and competitions.

Find out more at beechwood.org.uk

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