ALLOA ATHLETIC'S academy has recently renewed its partnership with a college to provide an educational pathway for the club's young players.

The football club have once again partnered with New College Lanarkshire (NCL) and the entry level of the pathway is via the Day Release programme, which began earlier this month via Zoom.

The Day Release programme is a Scottish Qualifications Authority National 5 and sessions are split into a mix of practical and theory, with extra on-field sessions each week and classroom-based theory, focusing on other aspects such as coaching and mentoring.

Max Nicholson, Alloa Athletic's club development officer and Academy coach, will deliver the sessions alongside lead assessor Sandy Douglas and NCL's curriculum and quality leader for sport and fitness Todd Lumsden.

The Wasps coach knows just how crucial this partnership can be for young players, in a future both in and out of football.

Max said: "It's streamlined more towards their football and sports development, much like you would go and pick a university degree in line with subjects you're interested in pursuing.

"They get to blend their passion for football with an academic pathway which readies them to become employable."

Asked if this is a by-product of the fact that not all young footballers make it to the top level and need another career option to explore, Max says that's a big thought for the club.

He continued: "We're under no illusion that the number of players that come out of an academy at any level to go to the top is far lower than the number of players that are present in the academy.

"To keep them involved in the thing that they are so passionate about, and that has made up so much of their lives, is important to us.

"[Then] there's the other aspect of injury: take a career if you do make it, injury can take away that career very quickly so it's a really appropriate fall-back to transfer the skills and knowledge they've built up through their time as a player into another environment."

There's a constant feedback loop between the club and college and Max says the club have been proud of the way players are representing the club.

Whether they are on campus or Zoom calls, from their punctuality to turning up with the correct kit and making sure homework is done on time, the coach says the players represent the values of the club very well.

"They're all representing the club very well," Max said. "And that's testament to their understanding of the values and standards put into place at the academy."

Todd Lumsden added: "At NCL we cater for students with all different levels of football ability, and there is a place for everyone to fit in.

"This new partnership creates a win-win scenario for both the college and Alloa FC – their young players benefit from extra training and education, and we get a pipeline of good quality students, who will hopefully move from the day release course into our full-time football programmes later this year."