Brodie Litchfield, 17, is the first young person to secure a development contract with Sheffield United after progressing through the Club’s A United Future programme run with The Sheffield College.
The striker, who made his first team debut for Stocksbridge Park Steels last season will now be part of United’s youth team for the 2015/16 campaign.
The elite education and training A United Future programme is aimed at 16 to 18-year-olds with experience of playing to an elite level who aspire to turning professional, as well as those who want the business know how to break into the football, sport and leisure industries.
Students complete a recognised vocational qualification whilst honing their technical skills with Sheffield United. The programme launched in July 2014. Brodie, who has been with Stocksbridge since the age of eight, was one of the first to sign up.
Nick Cox, Sheffield United’s Academy Manager, said: “We are delighted to offer Brodie the opportunity to continue his development as part of our Academy programme. There is a lot of hard work left for him to do but right now he should be celebrating what is a huge achievement. This is a great success for a programme in only its first year. We designed the programme to give late developing players the chance to stay closely connected with the professional game. In effect the programme has given Brodie a second chance. Hopefully he is just the first."
Places are now available on next year's course. Applicants have to attend some practical trials and pass a formal interview before being offered a course place. Trials for current U17s and U18s to follow in the footsteps of Brodie will take place on August 4th and 5th. For more information or to express an interest contact Lee Dunn at The Sheffield College via email at email@example.com.
Students study for a BTEC Diploma in Sport, Performance and Excellence at Level 3 – equivalent to two A Levels. Also, they spend part of their week training at the Redtooth Academy at Shirecliffe, gaining an insight into the workings of a professional football club, shadowing senior staff and having access to Academy training and first-team matches.
Nick Cox added: “There is no reason why other youngsters won’t follow the example set by Brodie – our aim is to see a graduate of the programme play in the first team at Bramall Lane. Great credit must go to Lee Dunn, who has designed and managed the football element of the programme. He has worked very closely with the staff at The Sheffield College, most notably Jonny Wathen, to ensure that the first cohort of players receive a great experience both on and off the pitch. A huge thank you must also go to Allen Bethell and his team at Stocksbridge Park Steels who have supported Brodie every step of the way. Both the Club and College will be working closely with Stocksbridge.”
In addition to offering a recognised qualification and an intensive training and development programme, that mirrors the experience of a SUFC youth team player, the programme provides the chance to achieve FA National Governing Body qualifications.