A new course at a Midlands college aims to carry on the sector's tradition of helping young sports stars on their way.
South Birmingham, one of the UK's biggest further education colleges, is to join forces with a premier-league football club to offer youngsters a chance to emulate their soccer heroes.
Four hundred students will join the scheme, which organisers hope will produce sports stars of the calibre of Olympic boxing silver medallist Amir Khan and footballer Lloyd Owusu, both former FE students.
Principal Alan Birks said the college initially planned to recruit 80 students, but the idea proved so popular that it now wants 400. The students will work on their football skills in morning sessions, then head to the classroom for an afternoon of lectures.
The college has teamed up with Birmingham City FC, whose coaches and players will helpto improve students' skills while teachers will provide lessons that lead to recognised qualifications.
Amir Khan, 18, is an FE student at Bolton community college and Lloyd Owusu, who has played for Sheffield Wednesday and Reading football clubs, studied at East Berkshire college.
Other sporting heroes with FE credentials include Tae Kwon-Do Olympian Craig Brown (Lewisham college), England rugby player Simon Shaw (Godalming college) and Olympic gold-medallist runner Darren Campbell (South Trafford college).
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