Carlisle United’s football development scholars ended the 2018/19 season with some well- deserved celebrations courtesy of a title-winning campaign which saw them lift the North West Division 1 CEFA trophy at Brunton Park on Monday.
The scholars, who take part in a two-year football and education programme with the club’s Community Sports Trust, overcame the likes of Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Shrewsbury Town, Fleetwood Town, and Blackpool to take the prize from what has been a tough and hard-fought season.
James Tose, who manages the team and the programme on behalf of the Community Sports Trust, said: “It’s the first time the competition has been run by the EFL so it’s a fantastic achievement for the lads and the club that we’ve won it.
“It’s actually our seventh trophy in five seasons so winning things is something we’re used to doing. The new format, implemented by the EFL, has added a bit more of a professional approach to it and I can only see it getting better and better with the standard getting stronger as we go on from here.”
Speaking more about the football side of the scholarship programme, he added: “I think it’s fantastic for local football that these lads are getting an opportunity to get a taste of what it’s like to train as a professional footballer and, most importantly, they get a good education to go along with it at the same time.
“What we try to ensure is that we’re providing a number of potential exit routes when they reach the end of their time with us. Some will go on to pursue careers in football and sport, others will go on to further education having achieved the equivalent of three A Levels.
“With the work-based qualifications they leave us ready to go to university and we feel, with the approach we adopt, that we also give them fantastic life skills as well.”
“The course has been a success for us since we started it up five years ago and we’re looking to improve everything we do year on year,” he continued. “We want this to be a place where parents feel comfortable sending their boys to, and we’ve achieved that, which is fantastic.
“On the football side we go into next season looking to defend our title and it’s possible that a few more Premier League sides will be joining the league as well. It’ll make it even tougher, but we’re looking forward to it.
“We have another 17 local lads ready to start the journey with us and we know from the feedback we get from the scholars who have completed the journey with us that they are all going to enjoy it.”