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The Football Association of Ireland and the Louth Meath Education & Training Board (LMETB) have teamed up to provide a unique local training initiative which will enable young aspiring footballers to combine full time training with a sports themed education programme.

The new FAI-LMETB Player Development programme will run full time from Monday to Friday starting in September 2018 for a full year. The course is open to both male and female players. Trainees will take part in a QQI Level 5 Sport & Recreation Major award course and will also have the opportunity to achieve an ITEC accredited qualification in Gym Instruction.

Course participants will also take their first steps on the FAI Coaching ladder and earn a National D coaching license qualification which will qualify them to work as coaches on various FAI programmes such as the Summer Soccer Schools.

A unique feature of the course centres around the opportunity to train on a full-time basis overseen by experienced FAI and UEFA A qualified professional coaches. The player development programme runs alongside the education programme and trainees will be able achieve their full potential as football players.

Former graduates of the FAI-ETB courses include a number of current and former Dundalk FC players such as Chris Shiels, Sean Gannon and John Mountney as well as former Lilywhites favourites, Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle who have earned contracts in the UK and have been capped in the Senior National team under Martin O’Neill.

Indeed, a number of the current Women’s Senior National team such as Stephanie Roche, Roma McLaughlin and team captain, Katie McCabe are also graduates of the programme. Katie signed a contract with Arsenal FC Ladies following her time at the Clondalkin course under the supervision of  Harry Kenny who is the course Coordinator there.

An attractive feature of the course is that trainees have the chance to participate in a sports related academic programme free of charge and are actually paid a training allowance to participate on the course.

Area Manager of the LMETB based in Dundalk training centre, Ray Murphy said:

“We are delighted to form this partnership with the FAI to provide this unique opportunity to young aspiring football players in the Louth-Meath region. I have no doubt that given the popularity of football in the area that we will have huge interest in the course. I’m very sure the course will be a big success and will contribute to providing quality educational and sporting opportunities to local people”.

FAI Programme Manager Derek O’Neill also said:

“The FAI is also delighted to partner with the Louth & Meath Education & Training Board to deliver this initiative. The Louth-Meath area is host to two famous League of Ireland clubs in Dundalk FC and Drogheda United who can provide elite playing opportunities to talented young people in the region. I’m sure these league clubs as well as the many other junior and senior clubs in the region will benefit from the players who graduate from our course.

However, we should remember that the course is foremost about educational opportunities for young people locally and although we have had great progressions in a sporting sense, we have had a huge number of people progressing to third level education and employment from our courses. So, in that sense, a cooperation between the FAI and the Louth & Meath ETB is a perfect fit and satisfies all of our objectives”.

The course is due to start on the 24th September 2018 and is one of ten similar courses delivered in cooperation with ETBs countrywide and will be based in the excellent facilities of the Dundalk Institute of Technology. For further information and to apply to join the course, see www.fai.ie/fai-etb-courses

You can also register your interest at www.fetchcourses.ie

Trials are expected to take place during August 2018 so it’s important that people interested in joining the course should register their interest as early as possible.