16th April 2019
Students make debut for FC United of Manchester first team
A number of UCFB students recently made their debut for FC United of Manchester in the National League North.
Will Ozono, Jack Grimshaw, Mark West and Salou McDowell–Jallou, who are part of the UCFB Undergraduate Academy, have spent most of the season helping the club’s under-21 side to the top of the North West Under 21 Development League. However, with FC United currently battling relegation, manager Neil Reynolds has called on a number of under-21 players to help.
Will, Jack and Mark played in front of 1,400 people in a 2-0 defeat away to Darlington, before all three, plus Salou, made their home debuts in 1-0 loss to Kidderminster Harriers. But despite the club’s fate now being all-but-sealed, the experience of playing at such a high level of the game has been vital as they look to progress their playing careers alongside their degree studies at UCFB.
The under-21 side is made up exclusively of UCFB students, and with just five games left this season, they currently sit top of the league. Head coach Kevin Braybook commented: “Throughout this season we have always discussed pathways with our players and how opportunities will arise if they continue to develop. We are all very proud these young players have played for FC United and hope they continue to learn and gain more experiences with the first team.”
He added: “It can always be difficult as a young player to make a mark at National League level but it is a testament to them and manager Neil Reynolds in trusting these players to play at this high level.”
Jack, a BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management student, said: “Playing and training for FC United under-21s has been really beneficial for my development this season, then playing for the first team has already taught me a lot. Plus, to play in front of the fans is an amazing experience!”
The UCFB Undergraduate Academy provides unique opportunities for aspiring professionals to study degrees in football business, coaching or related industries alongside their football training programme, giving them the best chance at a successful career in the sports industry.
Salou, also a BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management student, added: “Training daily on the UCFB programme has been the catalyst for my progression to FC United’s first team. Being in the under-21 team has helped me meet the demands of the first team, with the method of play much faster and more physical.”
He added: “Playing in front of 2,000 home fans motivated me to play well and stay focused throughout the game, and it was rewarding to get good feedback from the fans and know that my progression is being recognised.”
The Academy enables elite level players to train full-time with the schedule and attention to detail of a professional footballer, led by highly experienced coaches from the English Premier League and Academy system.
Third-year student Mark explained: “Through the UCFB academy I have been fortunate enough to play football every day. I have been able to develop myself and my football skills at a faster and better rate than in any other set up that is out there.
Playing with the U21s on a Sunday and then with the UCFB team on a Wednesday I have been able to hit a good run of form and gain a first team call up for FC United.
Playing in front of over 1,000 fans for the first time two weeks ago and then making my home debut last Saturday; it has been an amazing experience so far and a huge learning experience as well. UCFB has provided me with a platform to play at the highest level I can.”
The UCFB Undergraduate Academy, based in Manchester, is tailored for released footballers from all of the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs in England as well as professional clubs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It provides opportunities for aspiring professionals to study university degrees in football business, coaching and/or related industries alongside their football training programme, giving them the best chance at a successful career in the beautiful game, whether on or off the pitch.