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Gareth Barry may be just a few appearances away from equalling Ryan Giggs’ Premier League record but he took time out to visit Ellesmere College. The Patron of the school’s new football academy, Barry joined up with the elite football coaches for an afternoon session with current Ellesmere players. The former England international has turned out a staggering 620 times in the top-flight during a career that has included spells with Aston Villa, Manchester City and, for the last three years, Everton Football Club. Barry, who joined an elite club in surpassing 600 Premier League appearances during his current spell at Goodison Park said “The school have done a fantastic thing and agreed a coaching deal with some top coaches that allow the lads to get some proper training as well as focus on their school work which is important too, it’s a fantastic set-up”.

Ellesmere will begin its new football academy this September and the programme will deliver 12 hours of professional academy standard coaching each week, alongside subject-based qualifications including GCSEs, BTEC Diploma in Sport, A Levels or the International Baccalaureate. Ellesmere College will be supported by Edukick Manchester, who employs full-time UEFA qualified coaches and bring its 10-year pedigree of player development to the programme. EduKick will also provide a number of global connections within the football community, including academies in Brazil, USA, Mexico and Europe.

Gareth Barry’s appearance at the school follows ex-premiership footballer Jon Macken, who coaches with EduKick Manchester. Macken who once cost a whopping £5 million when he joined Manchester City said, “We are trying to help our young player’s form a strong idea of where they want to go in football, everything we do is designed to improve our young player’s technical ability and understanding”. Each player will receive an Individual player plan to develop fitness, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, nutrition and dietary advice, along with the opportunity to enjoy international tours, games against professional clubs, and visits to top sports universities. Players will also have the opportunity to attend football trials endorsed by the Professional Football Scouts Association (PFSA).

Headmaster Brendan Wignall explains “Football is clearly the most played and popular sport in the world, and whilst always remaining committed to the wide range of sports offered at Ellesmere, it seems logical to launch our new Football Academy. We are an ‘Athlete Friendly Education Centre’, an accolade awarded by the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and Edukick have over ten years’ experience in international coaching. We are delighted that Gareth Barry, has agreed to be our Patron and our expectation is that we will soon be seeing Ellesmere College students in Premiere League academies and clubs. Equally, we recognise that only the very best will make it as professional footballers, therefore there are pathways into the business elements of football within the Academy training at Ellesmere.”