Stevenage start new Cheshunt scheme to offer youngsters Football League opportunity

Cheshunt chairman Dean Williamson, left, with Darren Sarll

Cheshunt chairman Dean Williamson, left, with Darren Sarll - Credit: Archant

We’re looking to develop the very best in local talent, says Darren Sarll

Teenagers across Hertfordshire, Essex and London can now apply for a new football and education scholarship which could ultimately see them become professional footballers, thanks to a new partnership between Stevenage and Cheshunt FC.

The Elite College Programme (ECP) at ambitious Ryman League North side Cheshunt commences in September and offers boys aged 16-19 a unique opportunity to get a first class education while participating within a professional football club environment.

The two year scholarship will see participants study for a BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport - the equivalent of three A-Levels – at Cheshunt’s Theobolds Lane stadium while also gaining qualifications to work in the sports industry, including FA coaching badges.

They will also train for up to eight hours per week with UEFA B qualified Stevenage FC Academy coaches and play in the British Colleges League.

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The partnership marks the next stage in the plans of Cheshunt chairman Dean Williamson who is striving for success both on and off the pitch.

Currently underway is the redevelopment of 16 acres of land at Theobolds Lane to provide a high quality training and playing complex, including a full size floodlit artificial pitch, all to Sport England standards.

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Darren Sarll, head of youth at Stevenage FC, said: “We’re delighted to launch this new Elite College scheme in partnership with Cheshunt FC which will benefit both clubs but most importantly young, willing talent looking to build a platform for their future playing and non-playing careers.

“Dean’s ambitious plans for Cheshunt impressed us greatly and match our own level of enthusiasm to develop the very best in local talent. Together we are looking forward to a long and successful partnership.”

He added: “While similar schemes exist between clubs and colleges, ours is unique in that the boys who join us will have direct access to the same elite Academy coaches that work with our own U18 team at Stevenage.

“Many graduates of our successful college scheme in Stevenage have gone on to enjoy successful careers both on and off the field. Burnley star George Boyd and Leyton Orient winger Shaun Batt are just two to have come through our ranks, with many others currently enjoying careers within football and other sports in roles ranging from coaching to sports science and analysis.”

Youngsters interested in the new Elite College Programme, which will start in September, are invited to apply for one of two trials on Saturday, May 23 and Saturday, June 27.

To register your interest or for any further questions, please email Ian Morris on

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