Students from Preston’s College participated in the Lancashire FA Enrichment Cup this week on behalf of Preston North End, with the team representing the Lilywhites against a whole host of other colleges.
Known as Preston North End’s PAN Ability side, 16-18-year-old students from Preston’s College are trained by coaches from PNE Community and Education Trust every week before going out and competing as Preston North End.
Throughout the season, the side competed in the Lancashire FA Enrichment League where they were eventually crowned champions of their division, and were going for the double in the end of season Enrichment Cup at Lancashire FA County Ground earlier this week.
Unfortunately, the side missed out on top spot on goal difference, but that failed to take the gloss off a fantastic day as Inclusion Coach, Rob Walker explained.
“These students find themselves in main stream colleges who have their own football team, and these individuals may not necessarily find a way into that team,” said Rob during the tournament.
“This opportunity gives them another lease of life to compete regularly with players from other colleges and represent their college and Preston North End. It gives them a real purpose and a real sense of belonging to join in and represent their club, play against other people and ultimately go on and try to win.
“These games have a real friendly competitive side. Everybody shakes hands after the game and they’re all friends, but when they’re playing, they all want to win of course.
“We won the league against some excellent players as you can see today which was a massive achievement playing against the likes of Myerscough and Newman College. These are really good teams with really good players so to win the league was fantastic and the lads really enjoyed it.”
The opportunity to wear the colours of Preston North End whilst representing the college for a sport they love is something which goalkeeper, Aqil Patel takes great pride in.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve loved football and representing Preston North End is brilliant,” said Aqil after the tournament. “I go to all of the PNE games and it’s been great and I’ve improved my goalkeeping skills a lot since joining the team. However, next season I want to keep more clean sheets and do even better for the team.”
On North End’s involvement in the team, Rob added: “I personally go into Preston’s College every Monday and have done since September. We go in and train with these lads for an hour or two every Monday with the same group of players.
“It’s not just a case of me turning up and we have a kickabout in the hall and having loads of shots, we do enjoy ourselves but we actually do some serious drills. We warm up as a team and have a really good team spirit here.”