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We are the champions! League win for college football team

Posted: 26 April 2022

A college football team trained by Mansfield Town Football Club coaches is celebrating after winning a league title in its debut season.

West Nottinghamshire College – MTFC has been crowned champions of the Association of Colleges Sport (AoC Sport) East Midlands Men’s Football Championship League One.

Their title triumph was clinched on Wednesday 20 April with a comfortable 3-0 home victory against second-placed Moulton College, Northamptonshire.

It came courtesy of goals from right winger Morgan Boyle, attacking midfielder Cole Jarvis and central midfielder Joshua Tate at Mansfield Town FC’s The RH Academy – the Stags’ state-of-the-art training facility in Pleasley, Mansfield, where the college’s three teams play their home fixtures.

West Notts’ league victory came with a game to spare, after it accumulated 34 points from 13 fixtures, racking up 11 wins, one draw and one loss.

Its final match is against Newark FC Football Academy (Newark College) on Wednesday 4 May, offering a chance for players from the third team to step up to the table-topping second team with the title already secured.

The team is trained by MTFC coaches Jack Hawkins, Keiran Coupe and Charlie Hardwick, supported by physio Ryan Perkins, through a partnership between the college and football club.

Its players study the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport – Mansfield Town Performance Football Programme, which enables students to continue with their football development while gaining industry-recognised qualifications through the college.

The programme sees talented students receive professional football coaching from MTFC – who also support them to play in local and national competitive college leagues – while studying qualifications that prepare them for careers in sport and fitness, led by college tutors Chris Fraser and Wayne Loseby.

Keiran Coupe, lead performance coach for MTFC, said: “I’m immensely proud of the boys. They carried out exactly what we asked of them this season and have played some really good football. Not only that, they have taken on some good life skills as well. We’ve got three or four players that feature for Rainworth Miners Welfare FC and other clubs and they have been absolutely brilliant.

“Jack and I have been doing this for four or five years now and it’s the first time we’ve won a league. Some of the players were initially taken aback by the standard of football but the majority of the group have all featured, which is a massive achievement in itself and shows what a close group they are.

“We’ve got another year with this group so hopefully next year we can kick on again. If they do what they’ve done this year and they buy into it, it gives other players opportunities as well.”

Keiran insisted the accomplishment of winning the league in the team’s debut season was a team effort that extended beyond the pitch.

“Having the Mansfield Town FC badge on your chest carries a lot of weight. We’ve got great facilities at The RH Academy and teams really want to come and beat us,” he said.

“It’s been a massive achievement for myself, Jack, Charlie and the players but I’d like to also say a massive thank you to Chris and Wayne because those guys who are making it tick in the classroom, along with Ryan’s physio skills, really adds value to the programme.”

Captain and centre-back James Tetley, 17, said: “I’m proud of all the players. We’ve really put a shift in and things happen for a reason.

“The main aim was to finish high but we looked at the quality of players we had and knew it was a good standard. We went on an unbeaten run at the start of the season and started to think that something could happen, so we just gave it our all.”

The teenager was full of praise for the college programme, saying it combines the two things he enjoys most.

“We work hard in the classroom with Chris and Wayne, and we love that part because the education is enjoyable,” he said. “But it’s even better going out to train and play week-in, week-out. It doesn’t get much better to be honest.”

Reacting to the league triumph, fellow student Cole Jarvis said: “It’s a great feeling. The boys have put in a lot of hard work so it’s really deserved. From a personal point of view it was nice to go on as a substitute against Moulton College and get a goal.

“We might be a new team but, like every team, we’re here to win and we’ve gone and done it – so we’ve done our job with a game to spare.”

The 17-year-old was equally complimentary about the college course and the “high standards” it instils in every student.

“Everybody drills in high standards, from the classroom to training sessions, right through to being on the pitch on match day,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the course and can’t wait to see what the second year brings.”

Chris Fraser, the college’s programme area leader for sport (MTFC), said: “We are very proud of the work ethic and character that all our students have demonstrated to win this regional championship in their debut season.

“The relationship between Mansfield Town FC and West Nottinghamshire College is fantastic, and the success of these students in both this competition and in their vocational studies reflects this.

“We are excited to continually grow this programme and build on all of the success achieved to make Mansfield a hotbed for youth football.”

Here’s reaction from players Rio Allen, Cole Jarvis, James Tetley and Zak Green, and MTFC coach Keiran Coupe, immediately after the title was confirmed. 

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