The first cohort on the Elite Football Academy, offered in partnership with the Football Association of Wales based at the Ystrad Mynach campus, is celebrating success at national level.
Learners who have joined the Academy from all over the country are celebrating the opportunity to represent Wales in international competitions. Alongside their top level training, the learners are studying for vocational sport qualifications or A Levels.
Five members of the academy have represented their country this month in the Welsh Ladies Under 19s in a tournament against Belgium, Croatia and Kazakhstan as a European competition qualifier.
Two learners will also feature in the Welsh Ladies Under 17s football squad at an international training camp this week. Chloe Chivers and Shaunna Jenkins are hoping to be picked to represent their country in a qualifying tournament in Hungary in October.
16 year Old Chloe Chivers from Abertillery says: “We're lucky in college to be able to study every morning and train every afternoon. It's a huge honour to go away with Wales U17 and college have been really supportive."
16 year old Shannua Jenkins from Aberaeron added: “Being in the Elite Academy has already helped us improve and understand what is takes to become a top level footballer. I hope we keep getting better because the goal is to play for Wales seniors in the future.”
The Elite Football Academy learners benefit from training on the extensive facilities at the multi-million pound Caerphilly Sport Centre of Excellence, which is adjacent to the Ystrad Mynach campus.
Football Academy lecturer Nia Jones is a Dual international player, representing Wales in both Ladies football and netball. She said: “It took a couple of weeks for the girls to adapt to the change in lifestyle that we expect from these promising young athletes, but it's great to see how well they've bought into it. They're working very hard in the classroom and on the pitch, and those who have had International call ups are very deserving.”
Fellow lecturer Clare O’Sullivan is also the Welsh U19s ladies football coach. Speaking about the success of the first cohort of the Elite Football Academy she said “Hopefully this Academy is another step forward for women and girls football in Wales. We have all been glued to watching the Senior Men qualify for a major tournament , and having worked closely with these girls in the academy and with the younger Wales age groups, I really believe we have the talent coming through to help us achieve the same in the near future.”
The Ystrad Mynach campus of Coleg y Cymoedd has also introduced a Rugby League Academy where learners are also currently training for major tournaments.