Sunderland College student-athlete Harvey Smith is celebrating after receiving national recognition for his stand-out performances this season.
Sports Coaching and Development student Harvey, who is part of the college’s Football Academy in partnership with South Shields FC, has been selected for the England Schools U18s squad after successfully coming through a series of trials attended by some of the best young footballers in the country.
The 17-year-old from Durham was nominated by his county team to compete in a rigorous selection process between October to January with a place in the 2022-23 England Schools Football Association (ESFA) U18s squad up for grabs.
He will now travel to St George’s Park for a training camp before competing in the SAFIB Centenary Shield against Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in March and April.
After being selected for the squad, Harvey said: “I was in the house with all my family when I found out I had made the squad. I kept refreshing my phone and when the squad was announced I have never felt anything like it in my life – it was such a proud moment for me and my family.
Harvey hopes to use the experience as a springboard for future success at South Shields FC and follow in his father Barrie’s footsteps, who is a legend at the Northern Premier League side.
He added: “I always make sure I put 100% into everything I do and it’s something I learned from watching my dad play football when growing up. He played for South Shields FC for years and when I was accepted into the Academy, I was so excited. I’ve loved every minute of it so far and the coaches have really helped me push on as a player and a person.
“The lecturers and staff at Sunderland College have also been amazing, so supportive and helpful and they have been a huge part of my journey so far.”
South Shields FC Academy was formed in May 2017 when South Shields FC and Sunderland College partnered to create a programme to develop the best young footballing talent in the North East.
Student-athletes combine a full-time football development programme, delivered by a high-quality team of coaches, with their choice of qualifications including A-Levels, T Levels, and vocational courses.
Developing their skills in state-of-the-art facilities at both Bede Campus’ multi-million-pound Sports Academy and the 1st Cloud Arena (Mariners Park), they also receive a range of benefits such as strength and conditioning coaching delivered by Martin Nugent, access to physiotherapy and rehabilitation programmes, video performance analysis, nutritional advice, athlete screening and training kit.
The games programme is also supplemented by many professional youth team fixtures throughout the season in order to fully test and develop players, and hopefully prepare them for first-team football at South Shields FC.
Michele Di Mascio, Sports Academies and Partnership Manager at Sunderland College said: “It’s absolutely brilliant that Harvey has progressed through the trials to be given the opportunity to represent his country.
“Sunderland College and South Shields FC have supported his development as a student-athlete with detail and care, and it is fantastic to play a part in his achievement.
“We wish him good luck when he pulls his England shirt on.”
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