Ex-premier league footballer Andy Johnson is teaming up with his old school to boost the future of budding young players.
Johnson will personally coach the under 19’s team, launching in September at Mark Rutherford School as part of the Crystal Palace Football Academy.
The requirements to secure a place on the foundation are both academic and football oriented.
Johnson explains: “Students will need to have at least five A-C grades in their GCSEs to qualify for the scheme, and a good level of footballing is also expected.
“Trials for current GCSE students progressing to Mark Rutherford sixth form, hoping to take part in the scheme, will take place at the end of March.”
Johnson was a student at the school whilst he was a teenager, and his PE teacher Richard Millard is now headteacher.
Johnson continues: “The school is really supportive and Mr Millard is hugely passionate about sport, but this is not just about playing football.
“The students will also have opportunities to learn about sport science, physiotherapy and other great academic roles.
“I learnt my trade at school and I’m truly from the grassroots of Bedfordshire football.
“It’s important that the students fit the academic criteria as well as being good at the sport.
“This scheme will be hugely demanding of them as they will be studying for their A-Levels alongside it.
“Scouts monitor all of the foundations carefully and this could be a direct gateway for some students to start their careers in professional football.
“This is a fantastic platform for the youth of Bedfordshire to play a sport they are really passionate about.
“It’s so great for me to give back to the school and the current students in any way that I can.”
Headteacher of Mark Rutherford School, Richard Millard, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the young people of Bedford to gain excellent academic qualifications at a highly regarded Sixth Form, as well as developing their footballing talent.
“Mark Rutherford School is delighted to be involved in this partnership with Andy Johnson and Crystal Palace FC.”