Thorp Academy

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Ex-pros return to coach Thorp students

A GROUP of ex-professional footballers will help develop promising talents when the Back2Basics coaching team returns to Thorp Academy.

A GROUP of ex-professional footballers will help develop promising talents when the Back2Basics coaching team returns to Thorp Academy.

Former Sunderland stars Gary Bennett, Julio Arca and Kieron Brady plus ex-Middlesbrough defender Dean Gordon are due to begin their first full academic year at the Ryton-based secondary school and sixth form college.

The quartet has worked with Thorp students since January and they have agreed to lead regular sessions to footballers again in 2017-18.

Their expertise forms part of the Academy’s exciting Elite Performer Programme, which sees sport scholars receive specific training in a variety of areas.

Bennett, the former Sunderland captain, said: “We are all looking forward to starting our first full year at Thorp.

“We have been impressed with Thorp over the last eight months. The sports and activities on offer are different to what we have been used to and there is plenty of talent around.

“We have enjoyed doing the football with them. The aim is to develop the footballers we work with and improve their life skills as well as their ability with the ball.

“We have worked with teams from Year 7 through to Year 11 and we have also been visiting Thorp’s feeder schools to help them get used to us before joining Thorp.

“It'll take time to see the benefits of the structure we are putting in place but it is exciting and we are all looking forward to being back again.”

At least one of Bennett, Arca, Brady and Gordon will be present at the sessions laid on by Back2Basics at Thorp.

Danny Evans, the coordinator of the Elite Performer Programme, said: “To have ex-professionals, who played at such a high level, not only coach but mentor our young footballers is an unbelievable opportunity.

“Hopefully the performances of the local footballers at Thorp will improve and they also benefit local grassroots football too. It is important as a school we work with our community partners.”

Thorp's fantastic Elite Performer Programme was launched earlier this year and there is a fresh intake of Year 7 scholars, who can look forward to moving into a new build with fantastic facilities as they aim to excel in a their specialised sport.

To apply and for further details on the Elite Performer Programme at Thorp Academy please contact [email protected]