Leeds Rhinos and Leeds United team up with Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College for new student sport partnership

Sport inspired students will be able to up their game with the launch of a new sports academy.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 4:45 am

Leeds Sports Connect, a partnership between leading local sports providers and two colleges, Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College, aims to give student athletes the best of both worlds by combining professional training with outstanding education.

The project‘s sports partners are: Leeds Rhinos Foundation, Leeds United Foundation, The Hunslet Club, Ultimate Football Coaching Academy, and Let’s Do More, which all have outstanding facilities and coaching regimes.

By teaming up under the new-look academy, those organisations will be helping students reach the next level in a range of sports including men and women’s rugby league, football, boxing, and basketball, plus women’s netball.

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Student athletes from Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College will reap the benefits of the new Leeds Sports Connect academy system.

For Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College, Leeds Sports Connect - which will have courses specially tailored to ensure the best balance of practical training and academic study each week - represents a major expansion of their existing partnerships with local clubs.

The project was officially unveiled last night (Tuesday) with a welcome reception and presentation about what the college can offer academically, and the evening was rounded off with a question and answer session where visitors put queries directly to the teachers and coaches, as well as learning how to apply.

Deputy principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Ryan Grant, said: "Leeds Sports Connect is for 16-19 year olds who want to explore how far they can go in their chosen sport, and is especially aimed at late developers - for example, someone who’s previously shown promise in say football or netball, but maybe wasn’t quite where they needed to be physically at that time.

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Boxer and student athlete at Leeds City College, Abby Briggs.

“The idea came about through talking and working with our existing partners and exploring what we could do bigger, and better, to help each other out. Our students will benefit by gaining access to elite sporting environments, where they can excel in their sport, while also receiving an excellent education and working towards their desired career destination.

“And for us, the benefit is getting more students into these academies where they can flourish. These opportunities open up the potential for students to progress in a wide range of careers, both academically and within each sports specialism. The sky really is the limit.”

Leeds Sports Connect aims to build on success stories like that of young boxer Abby Briggs, a Level 3 Sports student at Leeds City College who has trained at The Hunslet Club for the

past decade. A silver medallist European boxer, Abby also trains with the England squad at their National Centre, in Sheffield.

She said: “I have found combining my studies at Leeds City College and my training at The Hunslet Club quite easy to manage. I am attending the Boxing Academy three times each week during the day which has helped with my conditioning, and my coursework at the college is enjoyable and informative. I enjoy my time there.”

Head of Community, at the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, Gareth Cook, said: “We welcome this new initiative to enhance the sport academies within Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College.

“The Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s men’s and women’s Development Academies have been a huge success and we believe this new arrangement will continue to raise their profile, while helping with the recruitment of future players.

“We will also be launching a Leeds Rhinos Netball Academy to help grow our partnership with the college and offer more opportunities for players to combine their studies with playing.”

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