Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
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4 February 2010 | PR 10/13

Let's get boys to score at Uni

Over 80 young footballers from Aylestone Park, in Leicester and Shepshed Dynamo Football Club, in North West Leicestershire, will be spending an inspiring day at Loughborough University, working with staff and undergraduates to realise their potential and train in world class facilities. 

The event is part of an innovative Aimhigher Leicester City and Leicestershire project, now in its third successful year, which has been designed to encourage the young players aged 12- 16 years, to think about the options available to them in the future, show them what it is like to be a university student, and build their confidence.

The ‘Higher Education through Football’ event is being held at Loughborough University on Saturday 6th February 2010 and will kick off with a training session on the university’s special rubber crumb Astroturf pitch.

Other sessions include a sports psychology lecture where players will discover more about using the mind to help beat the opponent, lead by expert Rich Anderson. He will explain how superstars like Beckham manage their nerves in penalty shootouts and show the young players how to use the mind to make their own performance even better.

The young players and their families will also get a tour of the university campus and the world class sports facilities and speak to current undergraduates first hand about university life. The whole experience encourages the players to have more confidence in their own abilities and see that they could possibly score a future at university of their own.  

Aimhigher works with young people who wouldn’t normally think that university is for them, Area Manager Neil Stock said: “ We ran a similar event last year for Beaumont Town Junior and St Andrews Junior Football clubs, it was such a huge success so we wanted to continue to give other clubs the same opportunity. We have these fantastic facilities right on our doorstep and this activity funded by Aimhigher, gives local kids an opportunity to get out of the classroom and take advantage of them. They get a great experience, and learn from real life experts and also they find that university isn’t out of their reach and they really can do it.”

Ron Collins of Aylestone Football Club is one of the local co-ordinators of the project, he said: “This is the third year we have run the project and over that time around 300 boys have taken part, the success has been so great that other areas are now following suit. The day at Loughborough is a great opportunity for the lads, not only will they get to train on the rubber crumb pitches after not being able to train recently due to bad weather, but they will also get to see what university is really like. We are expecting a really good turnout.”

Caroline Jeffries, Widening Participation Sports Development officer at Loughborough University said: “During the day at Loughborough the teams will tour and use the world class training facilities and learn about football psychology from a professional who works with Nottingham County FC. The day promises to be an exciting insight in the world of sport at university for the young people taking part, and we hope that it will inspire them to aim higher in their futures.”

“This is just one part of the Higher Education through Football project that Aimhigher is running locally and there has been nearly 100% take up from both the players and their families,” said Bob Stretton one of the local co-ordinators of the Aimhigher football project.

Emma Taylor, Aimhigher Communications Co-ordinator, said: “Aimhigher is part
of a national programme that works in 45 area partnerships across the country including Leicestershire. We aim to widen participation in Higher Education and work together with schools, colleges and universities in the city and county to provide activities that raise the attainment and aspirations of students.

“We target students who have the potential to go on to college or university, but who wouldn’t usually think that college/university is for them - perhaps their parents never went to university or they live in disadvantaged areas where youngsters don’t get the same opportunities.”

Last year, more than 13,000 young people from over 70 schools and colleges in Leicester City and Leicestershire took part in Aimhigher activities and experiences including vocational tasters, university experience days, masterclasses, music projects, events for students with dyslexia and career options evenings.

To find out more about Aimhigher, go to: www.aimhigher-leicester-shire.org.uk


For all media enquiries/more information contact:

Emma Taylor
Aimhigher Leicester City + Leicestershire Communications Co-ordinator
T: 0116 270 7942
M: 07947 130 365;
E: emma.taylor@vesa.org.uk

Hannah Baldwin
Head of PR
Loughborough University
T : 01509 222239
E: H.E.Baldwin@lboro.ac.uk 
Notes for editors:

1.  Aimhigher Leicester City and Leicester works with young people who wouldn’t normally get the chance or think about  going to university. It is part of a national programme which aims to widen participation in higher education by raising the awareness, aspirations and attainment of young people from under-represented groups.

2.  The ‘Higher Education through Football’ is a special project developed locally to provide opportunities and activities concentrated on boys. Male under-representation in HE has been increasing rapidly as boys shun university. Where as 10 years ago there were more males, there are now more females.

3.  The Higher Education through football project is working with Aylestone Town and Shepshed Dynamo Football clubs. Undergraduate students from the 3 local universities; Loughborough, University of Leicester and De Montfort are coaching the young footballers at training sessions. The coaches present positive role models from Higher Education. The young player’s respect their coaches and it is hoped that if the coaches are enthusiastic about university the youngsters can be too.

4.  This free event will take place at Loughborough University, Saturday 6th February 2010, 9.30am-1pm. Starts in the Beckwith Building.

5.  All young players from the clubs have signed image capture permission forms.

6.  Aimhigher is jointly funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Department for Education and Skills, the Aimhigher programme operates across nine regional partnerships and 45 area partnerships throughout England.

7. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2009 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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