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industry standard courses south London adults 16-18 year olds
  • industry standard courses south London adults 16-18 year olds
  • industry standard courses south London adults 16-18 year olds
  • industry standard courses south London adults 16-18 year olds
22 September 2014

Pitch perfect: Ben makes league debut

Ben HarrisonA football academy student from South Thames College has made his league debut for AFC Wimbledon. 17-year-old Ben Harrison from Kingston has risen up the ranks to be selected for the first-team, recently making his first full start against Accrington Stanley.

The defender is part of the AFC Wimbledon Football Academy, a full-time sports and education programme run in partnership between the college and the football club. Academy scholars usually train with the under-18s team but Ben impressed staff at the league two club so much he was elevated to the first-team. His performance against Accrington Stanley led to him being selected for AFC Wimbledon’s home game against top of the league Burton Albion, who they beat 3-0.

Ben said: “Playing against Accrington was a night of mixed emotions because we lost at the last minute so I was a bit disappointed, but I must admit the excitement overwhelmed it. Throughout the match I was running on adrenaline. I was still nervous but it was great – it’s a dream come true.”

The Football Academy provides promising footballers the opportunity to continue their football development while earning a BTEC qualification in sport. Scholars train with professional coaches and play fixtures three times a week, as well as attending the Merton Campus two days a week where they study units in nutrition, coaching and physiotherapy.

Ben added: “It’s really good to get a qualification because football’s not forever - it’s important to have something to fall back on. It’s a very good course because you can do anything to do with sport once you walk out of this college - it opens up so many more doors and means that if I don’t make it in football, I’ll still be able to succeed in life.”

Deborah Carey, sports and fitness lecturer at South Thames College, said: “We’re so proud of Ben’s achievements on the pitch and inside the classroom and can’t wait to see what the future holds for him. The academy does a fantastic job of improving the standard of the boys’ football but it’s just as important to have a good grounding in areas that can act as a platform to other careers. Outside of playing football, many of our scholars have gone on to have successful careers in the industry including working as coaches at AFC Wimbledon.”

The academy has helped players go on to play professionally and represent the country in the England Colleges squad since 2008.