Football students score free travel with Great Northern and Thameslink

Footballers from Stevenage, Hitchin, Knebworth, Sandy and Luton will benefit from free train travel,

Footballers from Stevenage, Hitchin, Knebworth, Sandy and Luton will benefit from free train travel, courtesy of Govia. Picture: Peter Alvey Photographer - Credit: Archant

Six up-and-coming footballers from Herts and Beds have been offered free travel on Great Northern and Thameslink for their sports education in London, thanks to train operator Govia.

The rising sports stars from Stevenage, Hitchin, Knebworth, Sandy and Luton were struggling to afford the daily travel needed for them to attend their Sports BTEC at the Lea Valley Pro:Direct Academy in north London.

The lads benefitting include 17-year-old RJ Smith-Jones – a Bermuda U20 international player – who travels from Luton.

Joining him is 16-year-old Tommy Reynolds and Jack Thomas, 18, who both travel from Stevenage, Harvey Moss, 16, from Knebworth, 17-year-old Ricardo Green from Hitchin and Sam Willis from Sandy.

Govia’s employee engagement manager Paula Hilliard has been working with The Prince’s Trust to organise Govia’s Get Into Railways programmes for disadvantaged young adults

The academy’s head of coaching Danny Payne said: “Without this free travel support from Govia the lads would not be able to be a part of the Pro:Direct Academy.

“They now have the chance to chase their football dream while carrying on their academic studies, which we hope will give them great options and great potential when they finish their two years with us. We can’t thank GTR and Paula enough.”

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Former academy graduates who enjoyed GTR’s travel support during their studies include Jack Morrell, who went on to sign for League One club Gillingham, and Harry Draper, who is now with League Two side Stevenage.

Paula said: “It’s such an honour to help these young men continue their studies and support them with this chance to improve their lives.

“We do a lot at Govia to help young people transform their lives and I love the work we do with all 60 of those who join us on our Prince’s Trust development programme.

“It’s wonderful for us to have the chance to make a difference to someone’s life. “I look forward to hearing about how these promising footballers progress.”

The Get Into Railways scheme selects people aged 18 to 25 to received free four-week and two-day courses at a training centre on the Great Northern Thameslink Network.

For more information go to about the academy, go to

To find more on the Get Into Railways scheme, visit, or