Ayr United Football Academy prides itself in taking care of our young players and helping them to build a career path for the future. The Academy Board of Directors decided that they wanted to place another building block in the career pathway that it was able to offer to all of its talented young footballers by integrating further education into the Youth Academy programme.
The harsh facts of life are that only a small minority of the players make the grade as professional footballers, whether that is with Ayr United FC or any other club. It was with this in mind that the Academy embarked on the development of an education programme that would allow those players interested to study for a career outwith the professional game.
The Academy recognised that the introduction of a college course would achieve two objectives. Firstly, the players would benefit from full time education which would add to their CV when looking for future employment; and also as the course would be football based, it would also serve as an ideal platform for players to concentrate on their fitness and football skills, thus giving them a better chance to impress and gain selection for the senior club.
The Academy was also keen to ensure that the course provided a holistic education rather than just a specific football education.
Ayr United Football Academy is now in its second year of a partnership with Kilmarnock College who offer the course of NC Sport and Fitness (Football – Based Award), NC Advanced Sport and Fitness and HNC Sports Coaching with Development of Sport. Students can enter at HNC level depending on academic achievement but most students to date have progressed from the NC stage. Students who have been successful at the HNC stage have then the opportunity to progress to the HND course in Sports Coaching with Development of Sport.
The initial registration for 2012/13 had over 80 students across the various course categories and of these over 20 are either current Academy players, Academy coaches or ex Academy players.
Students attend Kilmarnock College on 3 days per week and the base is the Kilmarnock College Centre of Sporting Excellence. On Wednesday and Friday afternoons the NC football students have compulsory football training and practical sessions in Ayr in conjunction with the football club coaches. These sessions are also attended by the HNC and HND Academy players.
With the attendance by a number of first team players the Academy students are able to train alongside the professionals that they aspire to become. These sessions are also attended and scrutinised by the Ayr United Management which is a unique opportunity for the youth players.