It’s the dream of many youngster to become a professional footballer, playing in front of packed out stadiums with the fans cheering their name.
Town Captain Josh Falkingham has made over 100 appearances the club and was part of the Leeds United set up as a teenager.
As part of the scholarship, Josh did a BTEC study which gave him with the skills needed if a career as professional footballer didn’t come to fruition.
“On a Monday and Wednesday, we’d study at Boston Spa High School to do a BTEC study alongside the football,” Explained Falkingham.
“I really enjoyed the course and came out with distinctions which I was really pleased with as I put my head down and worked hard for the grades.
“A lot the lads can think that the studying is a bit of down time when really, it’s vital to enjoy it more. If you don’t take it seriously you won’t enjoy the course.”
Our Captain knew from an early age that if making it as a professional footballer didn’t work out, he would fall back on becoming a P.E. teacher.
The course focused on coaching and it was an aspect that he wanted to take seriously knowing not everybody can have a career as a footballer.
Looking back on his career, Falkingham ponders what would have been had he taken his study further and gone to university to achieve a degree.
“I don’t think I wasted my BTEC but if I were to do it again, I’d have gone onto university straight after and kept it in education. I’m at the point in my career now where I’m thinking about having something extra.”
The BTEC study at Harrogate Town offers the opportunity to play, train and learn alongside Harrogate Town coaches and education team.
Aimed at students aged 16-18, the education programme provides a BTEC qualification as well as the chance to train like a professional footballer every day.
The Town skipper believes it’s an attractive option for those wanting to pursue a career in the game.
“If you’re enthusiastic about sport, then the BTEC is the perfect type of study to do. It doesn’t just focus on one aspect, it covers many bases such as psychological elements, football analysis and physiotherapy.
“The BTEC can send you down paths you never thought you’d be interested in or enjoy. You get a taste of it and then you can progress onto something further such as a degree.
This season, Town have successfully introduced players from the BTEC programme into the first team, with Harry Lee and Lewis Thornton both making their first team debuts. It’s something which Josh sees as a big positive for the course.
“There’s an opportunity here at Harrogate and we’ve already seen it this season. Two of the college lads have been involved with the first team and been around the squad in that environment which is fantastic.
“If you’re standing out in the college set-up and your studies are really high and you’re getting your head down, there’s rewards and pathways at the club which are really achievable.”
To make strides and make it as a professional footballer, Josh believes that hard work is a key asset and that it’s something instilled at Harrogate Town.
“Hard work is the ethos that’s being transmitted right from the top here.
“I always say it’s like a big family but without the work ethic, dedication and attitude it won’t get you anywhere.
“If you have those traits alongside the footballing ability, that’s the whole package that’s what can make you a more well-rounded person and hopefully a professional footballer later down the line.”
More information about Harrogate Town’s BTEC programme can be found through the below link.