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22nd May 2019

Talented Academy of Sport football players from Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group's (NSCG) AGFA programme have been crowned ESFA U18 Colleges’ Cup Champions 2019.

Esfafinal 71

In an exhilarating final, the AGFA Men’s team faced a strong Godalming College side; claiming a 3-0 victory and the ESFA U18 Colleges’ Cup Champions title at Stoke City’s BET365 Stadium on Friday 10 May.

Established just three years ago, this is the second time a squad from the AGFA programme have made it to the prestigious football final. Last year the squad meet St Charles Sixth Form College in the ESFA U18 Colleges’ Cup final, in a closely fought game, sadly suffering a 3-2 loss in the closing stages, but it’s that final which gave the returning squad the hunger to succeed second time round.

NSCG AGFA Head Coach, Andy Griffin said: “These players encompass everything that the AGFA represents, they are disciplined, hardworking players with the right attitude, who are bright, keen and willing to work hard both on and off the pitch. Their performance this season is to be commended and this title shows just how far they have come as a team. I look forward to seeing their continued success next season.

Team Captain and ECFA England International, Ethan Cartwright aged 18 said: “It was heart-breaking for a lot of the team last year who made it to the ESFA final at Blackburn Rovers, to have come so close to winning and been beaten in added time was tough, so this year we were determined to come back fighting. To score a goal in the final was an amazing feeling and something I will always remember. As a team the lads have worked so hard for this moment, it’s been a great way to end the season”

Dave Sutton, NSCG Academy of Sport Manager said: “The AGFA has only been part of the NSCG Academy of Sport for a short time, but in that time has already been a monumental success, twice reaching the ESFA final. Under the leadership of Head Coach, Andy and Altrincham F.C. player John Johnstone, the players have not only grown as individuals but as a collective and that is what has propelled them to new heights.”

Karen Dobson OBE, Principal and Chief Executive at NSCG said: “NSCG is recognised as one of the top colleges in the country for football development and results like this showcase why were so good at developing grassroots footballing talent. We are continually looking for ways to enhance our provision and the AGFA programme has proven to be a fantastic success both on and off the pitch; with students not only achieving fantastic A Level and BTEC results, but also having unrivalled opportunities like the ESFA Cup competition. We’re so very proud of the players in what has been a tremendous season.”

The final also saw AGFA player, Lewis Salmon voted ESFA U18 Colleges’ Cup ‘Man of the Match’ for his involvement in all three of the finals goals, scoring two and assisting the third.

Added Dave: “Year on year, the NSCG Academy of Sport continues to go from strength-to-strength. Successes in competitions such as ESFA Colleges’ Cup serve to demonstrate why we are the region’s top college for sport. The students and our dedicated AGFA coaching and support staff have worked tirelessly to ensure their success.”

Since its inception in 2016, the AGFA has gone from strength to strength and following three successful years at Newcastle College, the programme will launch at NSCG’s Stafford College campus for students joining in September 2019.

AGFA is a two-year programme for young players who have aspirations to play football at a high level or work in the football industry but also appreciate the importance of their education.

The NSCG Academy of Sport is open to students who want to compete, coach, keep fit or simply have fun. There are a number of competitive programmes including; football, basketball, netball, athletics, rugby and volleyball. The College was awarded West Midlands Sports College of the Year in 2012 and 2014 and was rated as "outstanding" for sports, leisure and recreation by Ofsted.

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