The Martin Gray Football Academy (MGFA) launched five years ago, coaching schoolchildren across the area, and has grown year on year, employing coaches in a range of different sports.
All the apprentices will be mentored by experienced coaches and have previously studied at college courses run by MGFA.
Martin Gray, the owner, who is also the team manager of Darlington FC, said: “Eight apprentices have started and these are kids that have come through our college courses, different ones that we have around the North-East.
“It’s nice to be in a position to offer them a career opportunity.
“They have done very well because they have committed to their college course, got really good qualifications and now they’re employable.”
The eight are Adam Morley Connor Brigs, Matthew Lovegreen, Mathew Pennal, Tom Young, Jordan Maughan, Jack McLaren and Bradley Blythe.
Some of them have previously been selected to play for Darlington, where Mr Gray is assisted by former footballers Brian Atkinson and Sean Gregan.
Mr Gray added: “They have done so well we feel we can offer them apprenticeships as professional football coaches in various schools and colleges.
“They’ll be working alongside the likes of Brian and Sean, who’ll be mentoring them.
“They’re all level one coaches, so they’ve got their first qualification, some are already level two, and they’ll progress as apprentices while being mentored.
Mr Gray created the football academy after leaving Oldham Athletic FC, where he was assistant manager, and, it now coaches hundreds of children each week.
He added: “I didn’t have a plan at the start if I’m honest, just a pen and a piece of paper.
“We work together as coaches and I always want more, we’re always looking at new ventures and these apprenticeships are a very positive thing for us.”
Story courtesy of
Craig Stoddart | Deputy Sports Editor The Northern Echo