The highly successful Burnley FC Shadow Youth Team programme that mixes football skills and academic study is coming to Accrington and Rossendale College from September.

Benefiting both male and female footballers aiming for a career in the industry or wider sports coaching and performance sector, the programme’s launch is part of a campaign to bring the extraordinary to Accrington and Rossendale College, after its merger with Nelson and Colne College – one of the leading colleges in the country across a range of academic measures.

Since the BFC Shadow Youth Team launched with Nelson and Colne College in 2015, 408 young people have completed the programme, with a further 32 completing the female equivalent, the Girls’ Post-16 Academy.

Last season, 117 students studied on the programme, and alongside their BTEC qualification, 28 Shadow Youth Team graduates secured their FA Level 1 Football Coaching award. Players have progressed onto impressive destinations both in the UK and overseas including university, employment, Apprenticeships, semi-professional and professional football.

The launch also comes at a time where the campus at Accrington and Rossendale College is undergoing £4 million of improvements, to ensure students have access to the best industry standard facilities to help them develop vital skills for their future.

Steven Buckley, Head of Division for Sport at Nelson and Colne College Group, said: “I’m delighted at this development, and it brings a high-quality, established programme with a track record of positive results to strengthen the vocational offer at Accrington and Rossendale College.

“The practical element of this full-time programme is delivered by an experienced team of UEFA licensed coaches, while the academic element is delivered by our brilliant teaching team within the Nelson and Colne College Group.

“As a student on the Burnley FC Shadow Youth Team – male or female – you can not only expect the highest quality of training from industry experts, but also a wide range of fantastic opportunities to enhance your learning, leading on to exciting futures.”

Olivia Riley, 17, is one of the existing female Girls Post-16 Academy players on the Burnley FC programme. She said: “I’ve played football from the age of 10, and this programme is absolutely perfect for me. As well as training and playing competitive football games, it is supporting my career aspirations of becoming a physiotherapist or a coach.

“In the classroom I’m learning a range of areas including anatomy, psychology and conditioning and fitness. On the pitch, female football is growing all the time, and the standard is improving with it. We’ve played and beaten Manchester City and Everton’s teams this year, so it is going really well.”

Harry Richardson, 19, was last year’s star award winner for the Burnley FC Shadow Youth Team, progressing on to Leeds Beckett University, where he now studies Science of Sport Performance.

Harry said: “The BFC Shadow Youth Team programme was definitely the best route for me. I love football and I always knew I wanted to work in sport, whether it was coaching, teaching, or in strength and conditioning. The fact I could study a BTEC and train and play football under high quality coaches was a win, win.

“In the classroom, the teaching was very good, and it really supported me to achieve my Triple Distinction* grade at the end of the course. Now I’m at university, I’m building on the knowledge I gained during my BTEC at College. Because I was from out of the immediate area when I went to College and didn’t know anybody, the progression to university has been quite simple for me as I had the confidence from doing it all before.”

Included within the £4million of improvements at Accrington and Rossendale College are brand new industry-standard Hair and Beauty salons, innovative study spaces, and a revamped specialist Learning Resource Centre.

There are also dedicated Learner Services and Careers areas and a remodelled and modern student Refectory. Coming soon is the redevelopment of the Construction and Automotive building and transformational green space creation to enhance the campus environment.

Applicants looking to apply to Accrington and Rossendale College still have the time. If you would like to apply to study at Accrington and Rossendale College, contact 01282 440272 or visit