South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.
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Dave Hockaday: “I truly believe that we are the best college football programme in the country”

Since taking up the mantle as head coach at SGS College’s Male Football Academy in October 2016, Dave Hockaday’s side has gone from strength to strength.

Hockaday, a coach who also values the importance of education, recalls the team’s successes since starting at the College.

“Last season the Football Academy played in the under 18 South West Counties Youth League, which is all of the best non-league teams in the area competing every Saturday. We won that league without losing a game, we were invincible.

“This season, to push people on, I got all of my second year players out playing senior football - so I’m playing an under 17 first team in an under 18 league, and once again we have a 100% record at the moment.

“We play in the very best leagues that we can, and in the pre-season we play against the pros. Last year we played seven pro teams and we only lost two games. This year, the team played six pro teams and we didn’t lose a game. I believe 80% of the pro teams would have their work cut out against us – I would fancy us for the win – we’re that strong.

“At the beginning of this season our kit sponsor invited the four best colleges to compete in a football tournament at ST Georges Park, which we won.

“My top team currently competes in the category 1 of the South West College League and we’ve won every game bar two, which we drew. Just yesterday we secured the league title.

“This season, I also took on the degree level football team and they’ve just won their league and did so winning every game. They are flying. I’m incredibly proud of them.”

Hockaday has set the bar high for the team and its players. “My driving ambition is to get as many players as possible off to top clubs,” Said Hockaday.

“In the last 16 months we’ve had six lads join pro clubs, one of them got a two year scholarship the rest were two year pro deals, which is fantastic and they’re all doing really well.

“I want SGS Sport Football Academy to become internationally recognised as the place to be for aspiring, young footballers. I’m starting to make links all over the world. I want to set up a legacy. I want this programme to be world famous. I want to create players from all over the world who are happy and fulfilled.

“At the moment we’re in a really good place. We’ve got great momentum, we’re producing great players, we’ve got the American colleges all over us, a lot of the top non-league teams and also the pro teams are approaching me, asking about players and exploring possible links with SGS Sport, so it’s a really exciting time to be at SGS.

"Based on our success over the past 18 months I truly believe that we are the best college football programme in the country bar none."

Hockaday also recognises the value of education. Ensuring his players are happy both on and off the pitch: “Everything the Academy does is for the players. The academy is here to provide pathways. The real strength of this programme is that the boys can study any course they choose. If their passion is plumbing they can do a plumbing course, if they want to be a rocket scientist they can study their maths, physics and chemistry at A level, if they want to go into the sports industry they can study a btec in sport. This creates players who are fulfilled in the classroom, so when they come to me they are happy on the pitch, and all they have to focus on is the football.”

Hockaday utilises his wealth of knowledge and experience of the game to create a challenging but successful programme: “The football programme itself, I believe, trains players harder than at the pro clubs. We have to because when my boys get asked to go on trial they’ve got to hit the ground running.

“We beast the boys in the gym, properly, scientifically. They train every day on the pitch, varied across morning, noon and night. We teach them about the game and how to win matches.

“Players are also guaranteed to play no more than two games a week to prevent overuse injuries and ensure that they are not going to fall out of love with the game.

“The type of support and conditioning my players get doesn’t just improve their football ability it improves their life. They get fitter, they get healthier, they feel better about themselves, they make friends for life, and they learn team skills and how to work with others.

“It also helps that our facilities are fantastic, our pitches are magnificent. They are championship quality.

“All of these elements combined creates confidence. You can see players stand taller and they start believing in themselves. Once a player has belief and drive they have every chance of making it.”

To find out more about SGS Sport Football Academy, or SGS in general, the College is holding an open evening, Thursday 28 March, 5:30pm – 8:30pm. People interested in attending can pre-register for the event by clicking here.