Parkhall Integrated College unveils 'exciting new sporting opportunities'

PARKHALL Integrated College are ‘absolutely delighted’ to be able to announce two new fantastic sporting opportunities for their pupils through the introduction of a Post 16 Football Academy course through a link up with Rangers Soccer Academy and Ballyclare Comrades and an exciting new opportunity for development of Gaelic Games within the college through a link up with St Comgall’s GAC and Antrim GAA.

The Post 16 Football Academy course is an extension to what is already on offer at the school.

Since they introduced their first ever post 16 cohort in September 2017, they have seen this provision go from strength to strength.

“We have places for 130 pupils at post 16 and we expect those places to be completely filled in September 2021,” said proud principal George Beattie.

“We have established a very successful core of vocational subjects including Art, ICT, Business, Life and Health Science, Travel and Tourism, Sport and Health and Social Care and we have added a further range of more ‘traditional’ A Level subjects such as Maths, English Literature and History.

“We will introduce A Level Geography in September with plans for A Level Media Studies to follow.

“By adding the Football Academy programme, we will allow 16 to 19-year-old students to achieve a BTEC National Extended Diploma in Sport at level three, which is the equivalent of three A levels.

“This will build upon the BTEC National Extended Certificate which is already being delivered by our PE Department within our current post 16 provision.

“This new course will allow progression to degree level study at higher education, study at further education level, direct entry in to employment or to pursue scholarship opportunities in America.”

This partnership approach with Rangers Soccer Academy through Senior Soccer Academies Executive and Scout, Phil Cowen, will allow students to receive top quality coaching as players, technical and tactical development and strength and conditioning.

It will also offer top quality coach education in relation to becoming coaches and top quality guidance in crucial areas such as performance analysis and the wider business aspects of sport.

It will draw upon the vast array of expertise and experience through Rangers Online Academy coaching platform and individuals in key positions within the club. The programme will be based around the key values of the club: ‘Relentless, Excellence, Aspirational, Diverse and Yours’ and demonstrates the commitment of the club in working closely alongside integrated colleges within Northern Ireland

Phil Cowen said he was looking forward to getting the ball rolling.

“Rangers Football Club, through Rangers Soccer Academy, are delighted to be part of this innovative and exciting partnership,” he said.

“We plan to offer academy curriculum coaching to all players and are fully committed to delivering a programme for students which is second to none.”

The partnership approach with Ballyclare Comrades Football Club will provide exciting opportunities at local club level for our students as players, coaches, performance analysts or working in strength and conditioning and provide a clear development pathway here within Irish league football.

Trevor McCann, chairman of Ballyclare Comrades, said they glad to be involved.

“The industry of football is moving fast and we at Ballyclare FC are keen to keep ahead of the ever moving curve,” he said.

“This opportunity to offer our club as a local football pathway in Partnership with Parkhall Integrated College, Rangers Soccer Academy and Northern Ireland Goalkeeping academy is one which we are delighted to be a part of.”

Michael Dougherty, of NIGK, echoed that.

“It is very exciting to be part of this exciting new venture,” he said.

“Through this we have the potential to continue to develop the best goalkeepers throughout Northern Ireland.

“The opportunity to be part of these new initiatives involving the school, the football clubs and the GAA clubs is fantastic.”

Anyone interested in gaining further details of this opportunity, including a digital copy of the marketing brochure and entrance criteria, should contact the school through emailing Mr Harbinson at pharbinson697@c2kni.net

“Over the past number of years, we have endeavoured to widen the range of sporting opportunities available to our pupils through the establishment of partnerships with local clubs within our community including Randalstown Rugby Club, Muckamore Cricket Club and Antrim Hockey Club,” he said.

“These partnerships have been established to allow for the sharing of facilities, expert delivery of coaching for our pupils, either within the curriculum or as after school activities and the creation of pathways for our pupils to play competitive sport through close relationships with local clubs.

“We have endeavoured to provide opportunities for our pupils to develop their interest in Gaelic games over the past few years through a series of blitz days and involvement in ‘The Game of Three Halves’ project and travelling to London to be part of the Cuchulainns Cup.

“Antrim Credit Union have been a valuable shirt sponsor for our school kit throughout this time. The majority of this development has featured mainly boys within the college and now we have a fantastic partnership opportunity to provide further involvement for our girls as well.

“Our partnership with Antrim GAA, through Kieran Megraw, Rural Games Development Manager at Antrim GAA, would provide Coach Education for staff within Parkhall as part of staff development.

“There would also be opportunities for developing staff in the rules and regulations of Gaelic games. Opportunities for blitz sessions would be provided once we return to team sports within schools.

“There would also be opportunities for post 16 students to get involved in coaching/organisation of mini tournaments as part of enrichment.”

Antrim GAA has confirmed that they would consider the use of school facilities to support their coaching programmes.

“Antrim GAA are delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative with Parkhall Integrated College,” said Kieran Megraw.

“We look forward to providing opportunities for pupils to develop their interest in Gaelic Games and to provide further playing opportunities for boys and girls alike.

“An important part of the partnership will involve providing coaching workshops for staff and post 16 students. I would like to thank Mr Beattie and Miss Huey for the invite to get involved.”

St Comgall’s GAC Antrim, through Head of Coaching, Connor Rafferty, would provide club coaches who would be available to provide coaching on a regular basis within the school setting for girls interested in developing their abilities within Gaelic games, initially through a series of taster sessions.

It is hoped that this partnership could provide a further pathway for students who wish to pursue this interest at club level. Teams within the club would have the opportunity to avail of school facilities to support their club programmes within the community.

Connor Rafferty, Head of Coaching at St Comgall’s GAC, said it was a significant step.

“This is a great opportunity at local level to work collectively with the school to develop and encourage the growth in participation of GAA activity.

“From a club point of view, it enables us to provide a pathway at St Comgall’s for girls and to increase our membership”

Miss Huey, Head of PE at Parkhall College, said the team were relishing what lies ahead.

“The PE Staff here in Parkhall are very excited about these two great opportunities being launched today,” she said.

“It allows for both our boys and girls to extend their knowledge and skills in a range of areas and gives them the chance to tap into the experience of many sports coaches and teachers involved in these two ventures.

“We are honoured to be part of these initiatives and look forward to seeing how they develop over the coming years.”

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