Promising footballers are hoping to head out of Africa and into Hartlepool after spotting an online article about a trial day taking place in the town.
Dyke House Sports and Technology College recently linked up with Hartlepool United – and any players who catch the eye at the Mapleton Road-based school’s trials could earn a place on Pools’ first Elite Academy.
The story about the trials has appeared on the school website and also on the Mail’s online coverage, and staff have been stunned to receive emails from promising players in Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Morocco.
All are hoping to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, Newcastle’s Chieck Tiote and Samuel Eto’o, of Chelsea, by playing in England.
Players from Italy, France and Spain have also been in touch ahead of the trials, which take place next month.
The head of college at Dyke House, Andrew Murphy, said: “It’s been fantastic to see so much interest and quite incredible to see how far news of the Elite Development Academy has reached.
“We have had emails through from Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, France, Italy and Spain.
“Some of those emails have included video clips of the footballers to watch, so we can assess what standard they are at.
“It is not long now until the first trial day for the academy and it’s a great opportunity for promising footballers to further their academic education at Dyke House while knowing Hartlepool United will keep an eye on their progress in a sporting sense.”
The trials are open to 16-18 year olds, and as well as a large number of local youngsters there are also applicants from London, Manchester and Leeds, keen to try their luck.
It is a unique opportunity for school-leavers showing significant signs of promise academically and on a football pitch to prolong their chances of a career in the professional game while working towards A-levels or a BTEC in Sports Science.
The Elite Development Academy allows boys and girls – boasting the minimum entry requirements of five A*-C grades including English and maths – to access first-class education at Dyke House alongside a range of benefits and professional coaching.
As well as training every day for two hours with close links to Durham University, students will have individually monitored strength and conditioning, mentoring from a Hartlepool United player and possible progression to higher education in the future.
They will be given Hartlepool United training kit and opportunities to train with the League Two club’s academy.