Evo-Stik League Southern St Ives Town are celebrating the success of their academy after Mark Lloyd became their first scholar to win a scholarship in the United States.
The Saints, due to host Aylesbury in the quarter-finals of the Southern League Cup on Tuesday night, hailed the first US-bound graduate of the St Ives Town Football and Education Programme on Monday.
A member of the inaugural intake for the Cambridgeshire club’s two year course combining football with education when it was set up for the 2015-16 season, the midfield skipper of the EVO-STIK League Southern Premier Division club’s U18s is bound for Middle Georgia State University in Macon later this year.
The teenager, who is set to combine studying for a degree in psychology with playing football in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics League, is pictured at the ProEdge Stadium with winger Ben Seymour-Shove and Saints assistant manager, youth team boss and academy tutor Jack Cassidy.
Cassidy, who combines his full-time academy role with his first team work in the EVO-STIK League Southern’s top flight, believes the Huntingdon-based player will be the first of many success stories to pay back chairman Gary Clarke and everyone else backing the educational and community initiative from the club’s board and officials to volunteers and fans.
He said: “We are all delighted to see Mark make such good progress. He is the first student to earn a scholarship in America after completing our own football and education programme – and hopefully many more lads will follow suit in the future.”
Based at Hinchingbrooke School in Huntingdon, the club’s academy caters to players aged six to 16-years-old with teams playing in the NERF Junior Premier League, the highest standard of youth football outside the professional club academies. The Saints also take part in a programme of regular holiday fixtures against elite teams from the Football League, Championship and National League.
The club’s football and educational programme was set up to offer professional football coaching on a full-time basis to students finishing Year 11 to enable them to complete their educational studies under one roof. Players who progress to Saints U18s play in the Thurlow Nunn West Division League while their U19s compete in the ECFA East Region College League.