Partnership between West Thames College and Brentford's Academy sees two new Bees sides formedA new partnership between Brentford’s Academy and West Thames College is giving youngsters a second chance to earn a professional football contract while also learning practical skills.
Started in the summer, the Brentford Youth Alliance team sees 40 boys, aged between 16 and 18, train three times a week while attending practical BTEC college courses on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Matches are played on a Wednesday afternoon in the Football Conference Youth Alliance, the biggest Youth League in the country, with Brentford entering two teams this campaign.
The Youth Alliance is made up of the Youth Teams from Sky Bet League Two and larger Non-League teams such as Luton Town, Boreham Wood and Eastleigh and similar Youth Alliance programmes at clubs such as Southampton and Watford.
The Brentford Griffins have started the season strongly in the London and South East Division and are fifth after six games while the Brentford Bees are ninth in the Home Counties and South West Division.
Brentford’s Alliance Team is led by Academy coach Dan Wright who joined the club from Bristol City in the summer to head up the programme.
The programme is run in partnership with Brentford’s Category Two Academy with promising players from the Youth Alliance team invited to train and play with the Youth Team in the Under 18 Professional Development League Two South.
This year’s intake is made up of 15 different nationalities, some who were released from professional clubs in the summer while others have never been involved in an Academy set-up before.
Dan Wright, Youth Alliance Head Coach, said that the aim of the programme is to give players a second route back into football either at Brentford or elsewhere while also providing them with skills to find employment outside of football.
“We are working off the same syllabus as the Academy so these guys are receiving the same practice and detail as we would give to the scholars,” said Dan.
“The idea is to hopefully get them back into the system or to see them playing as high as they can in the non-league.
“The course only started in September but we have already had three boys train with the Academy at Jersey Road.
“Anthony Hayes, Under-17s Head Coach, is very open for them to come into sessions and if they are good enough they will get a game.
“It isn’t just a token session here and there, if they think he is good enough they will put him on the pitch.
“A lot of the boys know that the football dream is a difficult one to follow and they have experienced that.
“We have got boys who are already coaching in the community programme.
“We have got one lad who already wants to be a PE Teacher.
“He sees this as a way of keeping his high quality and he is already looking at it from a coaching point of view.
“There are a lot of pathways that they can explore through the college so it is double-edged.”