High hopes for new classrooms

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THE PEOPLE behind resurrecting Ilkeston FC have revealed their latest plans to boost their involvement with the Ilkeston community.

When SR Education took over the club, bosses pledged to offer new opportunities to the public and this week they took a giant stride towards fulfilling those promises by starting work to build two purpose-built classrooms at the New Manor Ground.

The new buildings, which will be completed by August, will sit next to the existing social club and SR chiefs say they hope they will become key places of learning – not just for the club’s expanding number of football apprentices – but also for adults wanting to enrol on further education courses.

The move will also boost Ilkeston FC coffers with SR paying rent to the club for basing their local education programme at the New Manor Ground.

Ilkeston FC chairman Dave Mantle is also SR Education’s Managing Director and he said: “We made it clear on the day that we brought the football club out of liquidation that our intention was to create opportunities for people living in and around the town.

“We have already done that to some extent with the 24 apprentices who were involved with the Ilkeston FC Academy last season, and we have ambitious plans to move on from there.

“The classrooms at the ground will enable to us launch new and bigger education programmes and the object of the exercise is to give local people – adults as well as youngsters – the chance to gain additional qualifications.”

Mr Mantle is expecting 22 of the current group of apprentices to stay on for a second year and that figure will swell significantly over the next few weeks.

Offers have been made to 24 new apprentices and a further 25 are expected to enrol on community coaching courses.

While those extra 25 recruits are unlikely to play in the academy team, the club say they will still get the opportunity to play football through the college leagues while gaining further education in what are most likely to be sport-related courses.

And Mr Mantle says installing the classrooms for wider use outside the academy is key to the ‘overall SR Education vision’ for the town.

He added: “We are determined to position Ilkeston FC at the heart of the community, ensuring that we use the club’s facilities with a real purpose.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty around at the moment with so many youngsters across the country unable to find work. And I want Ilkeston FC – through SR Education – to play a major role on a local level in helping to change that picture.”

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