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Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 13:29 UK

City and United's learning goals

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Oxford clubs back youth schemes

For many youngsters a dream of a career in football dies with a few painful words from a manager when they reach their teenage years.

But two clubs within Oxfordshire are offering a route into the game another way.

Oxford United are offering GCSE and A level equivalent courses.

Meanwhile Oxford City Football Club are about to become of the of the first non-professional teams in the country to offer full-time courses.

They have teamed up with a local college and £500,000 of FA grants will go into the infrastructure at Court Place Farm.

Andy Slater, from Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, said: "It's never been done before. This is an opportunity for the students to get themselves into a realistic working environment to actually see everything that's involved in running a football club."

Oxford City manager Justin Merritt, who is also director of Premier Sports Group, said: "There are a lot of opportunities within the game - plenty of work opportunities."

With the Oxford City scheme there is a route into higher education with Bucks New University. Many who enrol will be trying to follow Gareth McCleary, who missed out of a professional contract as a teenager but, partly thanks to the college, has found himself playing for Nottingham Forest.

Trials will be held at Oxford City on May 27th and 28th.

Applications to enter the Oxford United Football & Education Academy will be available on their open day at the Kassam Stadium on Wednesday, 20 May from 1600 BST to 1800, and from 1800 until 2000. Throughout the day there will be education and physiotherapy workshops and students having training sessions on the pitch.

Student Lewis Colwell, 19, said of the Oxford United Football and Education Academy: "I was young and getting frustrated just working at a butchers. Then I got myself in trouble with the police which involved fireworks.

"I am still doing community service for it now. But being at this academy is showing me that I have a much better future in football and education."

Oxford United chairman Kelvin Thomas added: "We are delighted that a great many of the students may go on to work in the local community as teachers, coaches or professionals within other Sport & Leisure industries."

Trials for the Oxford City course are over the last weekend in May. Oxford United are holding their careers open day this coming Wednesday at the Kassam Stadium.



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