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Introducing the SSFC Foundation Performance 9-16 Hybrid Academy

The South Shields FC Foundation Performance Hybrid Academy is providing talented young players with invaluable opportunities and pathways to further their footballing ambitions. 

Players aged between nine and 16 who have demonstrated standout abilities are part of the programme, which was formed last year and aims to bridge the gap between categorised academies and the grassroots system in the UK. 

Foundation manager Steve Camm said: “This is an exciting new venture for the Foundation that we’ve developed and refined in the last year. It is a welcome addition to our existing player pathway which seeks to engage, retain and develop players of all abilities in Foundation football programmes. This Hybrid Academy is something different and is already creating plenty of interest." 

Our eight teams won six league titles and four cups last season, with the youngsters showing significant development on and off the pitch. 

Players have been able to demonstrate their skills on a national stage, progressing from the North East-based system they had previously been part of to being part of a ‘stretch’ games programme – which sees the teams come up against categorised academies outside the leagues they play in. 

This has seen South Shields FC Hybrid Academy teams compete against clubs including Ajax, Feyenoord, Celtic, Rangers, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Genk, Vitesse, Sparta Rotterdam, Burnley and Stoke City.  

Three players from the system have undergone trials at Category 1 academies, and multiple players have been processed into South Shields FC’s own 16-19 Academy, further demonstrating the pathway which runs all the way through the club now to the first-team. 

The players train with professional coaches twice a week and receive extra strength and conditioning sessions from specialists in those areas. Coaches at each age group follow a set curriculum which is in place to provide the players with the best possible skills and experiences to prepare them for life in football and provide transferrable skills for the outside world. 

Hybrid Academy Lead Nathan Kew said: “Within the Hybrid Academy, we constantly look to develop our players as people as well as footballers. We also work closely with club staff to make sure our standards align with the 16-19s and first-team programmes at South Shields FC. 

“The vast majority of the players fall within the 10% that have just missed out on being a categorised Academy player. 

“The Hybrid model fills the gap within the UK system to provide these players with a second chance or the step up they need to reach elite professional environments or our 16-19s programme, and eventually our first-team. 

“Our aim is to create an incredible environment for talented local children to fulfil their maximum potential while having an environment that creates incredible memories and follows the Academy’s motto of Better Never Stops.” 

There are plans to further improve the ever-growing and successful programme and begin to connect with more national categorised academies around the country, both providing experiences for the players and gaining knowledge to further develop the Hybrid programme. 

A Hybrid Academy recruitment night is being held on Thursday, December 21st at Harton Welfare, with a 5pm start. This is open for all players in current age groups from Under-8s to Under-12s, and registrations can be made by sending an email to


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