During the first season for the newly formed Preston’s Centre of Sporting Excellence, one of the several men’s teams who play under the partnership banner collected the North West One trophy, while the Centre of Sporting Excellence’s women’s team won the North Central Women’s title.
Preston’s Centre of Sporting Excellence is an innovative education partnership between Preston’s College and Preston North End Community and Education Trust, allowing learners studying a Diploma in Sport to compete regionally and nationally alongside their studies. Teams represent both organisations by playing in EFL CEFA weekly fixtures against other club community organisations.
This season, the successful men’s team challenged local rivals such as Blackburn Rovers, Burnley and Blackpool in their division, while the women’s team encountered the likes of Manchester City, Sheffield United and Derby County among their league opponents.
Preston’s College Principal and Chief Executive Louise Doswell said: “I am extremely proud of all the young women and men who have been involved in winning the EFL league titles. Their achievement has come from working hard in both their academic studies and skills training sessions. Being part of the Sporting Excellence Programme enables young people to gain extended life skills which will be valuable in assisting them to progress in their chosen careers.”
Tutor Zach Clark said: “We have a policy in place for learners, where if you don’t do the work, you don’t play.
“This is their reward for all the effort they’ve put in in the classroom – meeting deadlines, getting decent grades – then they’re able to get on the pitch.
“We have had limited training, a stop-start season. We had only played one or two league games before Christmas. Credit to the EFL for getting the league back up and running; it has been massive for the motivation of our learners.
“The amount of games we have got in for our learners – for our men’s A, B and C teams and women’s team – has been brilliant. Getting points on the board and games under our belt has ultimately won us the leagues. We can’t credit the learners enough for that.”
Winning men’s captain Jack Paynter has enjoyed the balance of classroom learning and the opportunity to train and play as part of the Diploma in Sport qualification.
Jack said: “It’s worked well, the theory side of things, playing football, and having a balance during the week – two days’ theory, two days’ football. It makes you want to work because you have to get your work done to be able to train and play.
“Throughout the course of the season, you’ve got [Education Tutors] Zach and Stew [Clitheroe] coaching you, telling you what you need to do better and how to improve.
“The result is what we wanted, everyone has worked hard for this moment, so it feels good.”
Women’s team captain Jenna Salthouse said playing in the EFL CEFA league has given her the opportunity to put her learning into practise on the pitch.
Jenna said: “I think I have really benefitted from learning off the pitch and then applying that on the pitch.
“As a player, I’ve become much more confident – I’ve become a leader and I think I’ve become a good role model.”
On the title success, she added: “We put a lot of hard work into it, it has been a tough year, but it feels nice to get the reward. I think we deserve it as a team, we’ve worked hard and we’ve worked well, and it feels nice to finish on a high.”
School leavers can study a Diploma in Sport and play in the EFL CEFA league alongside their studies by enrolling at Preston’s Centre of Sporting Excellence.
To express an interest in enrolling at the Centre of Sporting Excellence, please email our applications team at email@example.com or give us a call on 01772 225774. Or if you’re ready to apply online, visit www.preston.ac.uk/online-application/