Cornish Plymouth Argyle will feature heavily in Sunday’s Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium.
Forty-eight students and six staff from the Argyle Community Trust’s football development and education programme, based at Carn Brea near Redruth in Cornwall, will be guests of the EFL at the flagship event. They will feature in three of the EFL’s Community & Education Football Alliance (CEFA) leagues this season thanks to a remarkable net profit.
The Football Development and Education Programme, based in Plymouth and Carn Brea, is a full-time, two-year education and football development program for 16-18 year olds. Participants study for a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma alongside a full football scholarship, which is fully staffed by Argyle.
They also compete in an EFL Club Community Organizations competition, which brings together teams from the Premier League and EFL clubs across the country. This season, Argyle teams competed in CEFA South West Divisions 1, 2 and 3 – and won the raffle!
Jamie Day, Cornwall Head of Football and Tutor at the Post-16 Football Education Program at Carn Brea said:
“We play against clubs like Bristol Rovers, Bristol City, Swindon Town and Bournemouth in the EFL South West CEFA competition. Getting a team over the line and winning a league is pretty impressive – we did that with the first team a couple of seasons ago – but for the first, second and third teams to all win their respective divisions is quite unique.”
The first team won Division One undefeated – with eight wins and two draws – while the second team upped the ante in Division Two with a clean run. The third team had the toughest fight, winning the third division by a single point.
Jamie commends the caliber of the current youth in the program.
“We’ve had a really good record over the last few years in terms of the quality of their football. A lot of them are playing at a decent level – the Western League, the South West Peninsula League and so on – and a couple of guys are in and around the Truro City first team in the Southern League.”
One of the main aims of Argyle’s football development and education program is to enable players who have not quite made the step into academy by the age of 16 to take the next step. The program is a gateway to a wide range of options for young people, from further education to careers in sport and various apprenticeships.
On Sunday in London, they will be rewarded for their success this season with lunches and awards ceremonies at Club Wembley Suite and prime seats for the play-off final between Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield.
As Jamie says: “It’s the first time it’s happened that we’ve won all three leagues and bringing all the teams to Wembley is a real achievement. We’ll take the bus to London and make a real day out of it. It’s great for them – the boys will never forget it.”