Thinking about the future - (L-R) Josh Nearney, Ryan Tuck and Luke James

Football Stars Using Their Heads At East Durham College

Thu, 2001-10-25 01:00

Three young footballers are using their heads in more ways than one by continuing their studies at college.

Luke James, Ryan Tuck and Josh Nearney are all on the books at Hartlepool United, with Ryan and Josh in the youth team and Luke staking his claim for a starting place in the first team.

But all three players are wisely continuing in further education, studying at East Durham College and ED6 as a back-up plan for their future.

Luke, 17, who has already made 24 league appearances and scored four goal for the first team and youth team captain Ryan, 17, are both studying on BTECs in Sport at the Peterlee-based college - with Ryan also studying for his Level 2 fitness instructors qualification.

Josh, 17, who is also studying on the BTEC is also one of only five boys in England on the League Football Education programme who is studying for an A-Level.

As much as all three hope to have a successful career in football they feel that also having a good education to fall back on is an important part of their futures.

Youth team captain Ryan Tuck said: “Really it’s always important to have a back up plan. Nowadays in football you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Josh Nearney said: “Whether it is injuries or even contracts you just don’t know, so you need to have something to fall back on. Having a back-up plan is always important for your future.”

And it’s not just college that Josh is thinking about. He is hoping that with taking on an added A-Level in Physical Education, as well as the BTEC, he will have the opportunity to continue his education on at university if things don’t work out for him with Hartlepool.

Josh added: “I decided to go towards an A-Level mainly in case I didn’t get a contract, and I think it’s better to have a BTEC and an extra A-Level. Universities will be more impressed if I have them both, if that’s the route I decide to go down in the future.

“So yeah, I’m hoping to continue my education if my future doesn’t lie in professional football and hopefully the qualifications I receive from EDC and ED6 will allow me to do that.”

And the dedication of the three young stars to their football as well as continually working hard on their courses at the College has impressed EDC sports lecturer Michael Taylor who believes the lads can go far.

Michael Taylor said: “They have been remarkable with their efforts both in their training on the football field and when coming into college to continue their studies.

“Luke travels down on public transport from Amble, in Northumberland, for training and college, a journey that takes over two hours. Despite this his attendance is excellent. Luke also came into college over his summer break to work on his BTEC so he was able to spend more time with the first team.

“Ryan has captained the Youth team this year and is constantly achieving the highest grades in his BTEC, he will also be doing the Extended Diploma, which will involve him doing extra units in his own time. He is also beginning a Level 2 Fitness Instructing course which will give him a broader choice of options both inside and outside of football.

“And young Josh has just started on his college course and has also decided to take the AS Level PE course at our sixth form which will involve Josh doing a large amount of work outside of his BTEC and training with Pools

“Josh is one of only five students in the country out of over two hundred in the LFE programme to qualify for the A-Level programme. He is currently among the top of his cohort with his grades and is also staying on top in his BTEC group too."

And Michael praised the help and cooperation of Hartlepool United and the League Football Education, who have helped the three players throughout their studies.

Michael added: “The lads couldn’t be in the fantastic position they are in now if it wasn’t for the help of both Hartlepool United and the LFE.

“The support they have received from all their coaches, John Hewitson in the youth team, Micky Barron at reserve level and Neale Cooper the first team coach has been fantastic.

“And Paul Urwin the regional officer for the LFE who has been a great contact for the players making sure they are being treated well and have no problems within their studies or football. He is really impressed with the work the lads are doing and by the College itself.”

If you would like more details on the League Football Education programme you can contact the College on 0191 518 2000.