The NPL Football Academy’s proud coaches are hoping their latest graduate to the professional game will help inspire their next intake of young students.
With the third intake starting in September at the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s ground-breaking league wide academy, Matlock Town’s Max Hunt has signed for Mansfield Town.
The talented centre-half joined the League Two Stags at the start of July and had already progressed to the U21s in a number of pre-season friendly games.
Hunt, becomes the NPLFA’s second professional graduate following Yohan Rutty-Smith’s switch from Romulus to Notts County last year and the first from the Gladiators. Before playing against Stanley, the Gladiators captain also lead his side to victory at Easter in the Blackpool Cup.
An NPLFA spokesman said: “We are delighted one of our students has been give the opportunity to progress to the professional ranks. The Matlock Town academy is going from strength to strength under Steve Heath and Jamie Yates and what they have achieved in their first year in the programme is outstanding.
“Max has thrived in the environment that both Matlock and ourselves have created for these young students to develop their football and gain a fantastic education at the same time and there are many more students at Matlock and the rest of our clubs who have the ability to reach the same level if they work hard.”
He added: “On behalf of everyone at the NPL Football Academy, we would like to wish Max the best of luck in the professional game and we will be keep tabs on how he is progressing at Mansfield.”
Head coach Yates said: “Max is a good player for his age, without a doubt has a long way to go but his ability and experienced style of play for a young man makes him stand out amongst others.
“The best asset he has is his attitude to go with his ability. He sets the standard in training and now sets the standard for other players at this level to emulate, he’s shown that going into the professional game can be achieved so I wish him the very best of luck.”
Hunt has no doubts about who he owes his success to. After signing for the Stags he said: “I really loved my time at the Matlock Town Academy I felt it brought me on leaps and bounds as a player and as a person.
“The professionalism of the club was fantastic and the coaches, Jamie and James Holmes, were a massive help in bringing me on as a player. I loved the training schedule and playing as much football as we did and the sessions we did were always creative and game relevant.
“The educational side was also enjoyable as it was interesting subjects and fun to be working with your friends everyday. I would like to thank to everyone at Matlock for giving me the chance to progress and play senior football with the reserves and training with the first team which all really helped as it brought me on mentally and physically and showed a different side to the game.
“I would definitely recommended the NPL Football Academy to anyone wanting to progress in football because it is a great set up and has great pathways for people who want to succeed. Finally, I would like to thank both Matlock and the NPLFA for giving me the chance to progress and be a part of a great set up. My next target is to keep working hard, learning and professing as much as I can in the game.”