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RUCST | RUCST launch Shadow Academy

12 July 2019


RUCST | RUCST launch Shadow Academy

12 July 2019

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Rotherham United Community Sports Trust are delighted to launch a brand new Elite Football Development Programme in partnership with Rotherham United FC.

Rotherham United FC Shadow Academy aims to give talented young players between the ages of 16 and 18 the chance to combine academic studies with practical football experience. It is designed to bridge the gap between grassroots and academy football.

Scholars will benefit from an extensive football development curriculum delivered by highly qualified and experienced coaches alongside specialist staff delivering other aspects of our multidiscipline training model, including sport science and performance analysis.

The Shadow Academy will compete in the recently formed EFL Community and Education Football Alliance League (CEFA), which consists of teams represented by EFL and Premier League Clubs. The league hosts a demanding and high standard of football through which players may progress to Rotherham United FC’s official Under 18s.

In addition to the football programme, the scholars will have the option to study a range of education courses at the Trust, gaining either a BTEC qualification (equivalent to 3 A-Levels) or a Foundation Degree in Football Coaching & Development. The courses are designed to provide the students with the knowledge and skills to pursue a career working in the sports industry.

Rotherham United star and Shadow Academy Ambassador Ben Wiles believes this is a great opportunity for young footballers in Rotherham:

“This is a great opportunity for young players across Rotherham who may not have been ready at 16 to sign for a Professional Club. This programme will provide them  with 2 more years to develop their ability in a professional environment, whilst gaining an education that will allow them to progress into employment in the sports industry or progress to University.’’

Shadow Academy Head Coach John Whitehead is already looking forward to the start of the new season:

This opportunity will provide a great platform for individuals to continue both their educational and football development in a professional environment. We provide a high level education programme based within a professional football environment with access to excellent facilities that enhance learning practically and academically. We understand that individuals develop at different rates, both on and off the field. This programme will allow players to continue their development physically, technically and tactically for a further two years, giving them a second chance to get back into professional football, it’s an opportunity we hope players take with both hands.”

Rotherham United FC Academy manager Richard Hairyes also believes this will be a good opportunity for young footballers to enhance their development:

This is another fantastic initiative from the Rotherham United community trust. The new elite football programme will allow players to experience a high quality run programme giving the students a fantastic opportunity to enhance and progress with their football development whilst gaining a valuable educational focus.

For more information on the programme please visit or email

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