From Community Trust to Academy as Nathan Randell signs scholarship with the Under 18s.It’s been quite a 12 months for 15-year-old Nathan Randell. Last summer, he was just another talented but frustrated young footballer unsure what direction his life was heading.
Now he is looking forward to a two-year apprenticeship in the Under 18s and the chance to become a professional footballer with Wigan Athletic having been spotted playing in a football competition at Wigan Youth Zone.
Nathan has been a participant on Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Kicks and Game On projects for a number of years, but never expected his involvement could lead to scholarship with a professional football club.
“I got involved with Kicks four or five years ago because my friends around here came down to sessions and I wanted to join in with them,” Nathan said.
“I found the coaches really helpful and they always ran the sessions really well. I’ve taken part in competitions representing Wigan across the country and they’re always a fun way to spend the day.
“I played in a tournament at Wigan Youth Zone where I scored a few important goals to get us into the final.
“Then I scored in the final against Manchester United for us to win the competition. I was spotted there and since then it’s been great, I’ve just been able to play football and get great coaching to help me improve.”
Having been recommended to the Club’s Academy, Nathan spent eight months training with them before being offered a scholarship having impressed the coaches with his attitude and commitment.
Academy Manager Gregor Rioch said:
“Nathan joined the Under 16 group with no previous Academy experience so it took him a little while to settle in.
“But his commitment has been really impressive. He’s had to catch a train to training, but he hasn’t missed one training session which is a credit to his attitude and commitment.
“He is an interesting young player who plays naturally off both feet, and could be one to watch in the future.”
When Nathan first started attending Community Trust sessions in 2012 he was part of a group that often found themselves involved in anti-social behaviour and trouble with the police.
But staff at the Community Trust worked closely with the group encouraging them to channel their energy into sport. You can see what the Kicks project entails below.
“Kicks and Game On helped me to get better at football, it’s given me something to aim for and to keep committed to coming down to improve,” Nathan added.
“I’d recommend them to anyone, it’s given me a great opportunity to aim to play professional football, but generally it gives everyone a chance to get involved in some sort of sport.
“It gives you that commitment to come down to do something, to have a kick about and to learn some new skills. It’s also a safe environment and it’s great to have your mates here to play with.
“The hope for me now is to stay playing for Latics. If it hadn’t been for Kicks I doubt I’d have got the opportunity to be found by a lower league team, never mind someone as big as Wigan.
“If I didn’t have the chance to sign a scholarship with Wigan I would just be looking ahead to college and a career in construction – I’d definitely rather be playing football for Wigan though.”
The Latics Kicks project is supported by the Premier League, Sport England, Wigan and Leigh Housing and WLCT for more information please [click here].
Game On is supported by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.