In 2007-08 British Colleges Sport, with financial support from The Football Association, established the England Colleges Football programme to develop students who are combining full-time studies in further education colleges with playing a high standard of football. The programme runs alongside the 4-year football development strategy for FE 2008-2012 which contributes to the FA National Game Strategy 2008-2012.
Football is the most populated sport within further education sport and the BCS representative programme has an extraordinary reach. The regional team system has historically always been held in high regard, and is followed closely by over two hundred member colleges from seven English regions.
The national team programme has further raised the level of football representation and significantly raised the aspirations of those students and staff selected to take part.
Aims & objectives of programme
- To develop an effective system to allow players in full-time further education to represent their country.
- To identify players within college football with outstanding ability and place them in an environment designed to produce football and educational excellence.
- To develop an effective system to identify coaches and workforce with high potential working within the FE sector and develop, train and mentor them.
As part of the programme BCS run two sides (one male & one female), with a pathway for players with disabilities also under consideration. Players are selected from a structured trial system that starts initially with phase one regional trials in October, progressing through to a phase two competition in November and through to a phase three national team selection camp in December where a pool of twenty two players for each squad are identified.
Once selected, players follow a similar programme to the England national teams with structured meet-ups building up towards peak performance in a tournament at the end of the season. Over the course of the season the players will participate in a series of training camps, including an international camp, together with British-based fixtures.
About the Women's Team
Selected players follow a programme similar to that of the FA's England Youth national teams thanks to the close links established between the two organisations.
The England Colleges Football women's team are highly rated in the women's game, going undefeated in over a year. In the past season, impressive victories were recorded over England Universities U-21's and the Northern Ireland Under-19's international squad. The women's England squad are also reigning champions of the Anglo-Welsh Shield, defeating the Welsh women's side comprehensively over two legs.
The national team is supported by an extensive network of college-based staff, and in 2010-11 England Colleges Football scouts will be appointed and deployed across all of the NCFL divisions. Professional Club scouts, US University scouts and England Women's scouts also regularly attend England College Football fixtures, providing a great platform for players who impress to progress further in football.
How the Trial System works
The trial system has slightly changed from last year with the Phase 3 trials being held on one day at Lilleshal for the Women's.
Wednesday October 6th
1 day trials held within the Region. A team of up to 16 players is selected to represent the regional squad and will go forward to Phase 2
1 day trials held within the Midlands North and South regions. Regional squads play a series of games with players observed in match play. 33 players are then selected to progress to Phase 3
The top 33 players are then invited to play in a series of games at Lilleshal Sports Centre with the purpose of selecting the initial squad of 22 for fixtures.
NCFL select team to attend National Team Camp before Easter
A squad of up to 16 players scouted from their involvement in the NCFL are selected to attend a National Team behind closed doors training camp to play against the selected England squad.
Most players have been involved within a professional clubs' academy or centre of excellence programme, before being released and pursuing their education at college. Players that trial should have played at a level equivalent of county representative, academy/centre of excellence or non-league club level. In order to be eligible all players, male and female, must be full-time students within a BCS-affiliated Further Education College and playing within the BCS football competitions.
Official England Colleges Football Partner
Future Elite Sports- The trusted organisation helping athletes fulfill their potential by creating opportunities in sport. www.futureelitesports.com