A new football academy in Cumbria played its first competitive game – at one of the country’s most famous training grounds.
The Cumbria Institute of Sport, just established on the former site of Newton Rigg College near Penrith, took its team to Melwood, the former training ground of Liverpool FC.
It is now home to Fowler Academy, a similar sporting and educational academy run by legendary Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler and affiliated with Anfield Club.
The Cumbrian side, now affiliated with Morecambe FC, lost the game 4-0.
But it was an invaluable first experience in the National Football Youth League, says Darren Edmondson, former Carlisle United favourite, who founded the Cumbria Institute of Sport.
“It was fantastic for us to play there,” said Edmondson.
“You just had to think about some of the players that have been there over the years.
“There’s still a lot of Liverpool memorabilia there and it’s fantastic to be the first game for the boys and the Cumbria Institute of Sport.”
Jamie Carragher is also involved with Fowler Academy.
Edmondson founded the Cumbrian Academy this year. The aim is to offer young people aged 16-19 the opportunity to train professionally and play against clubs and academies in the area, while equipping themselves with skills and qualifications.
Initial uptake recently began with five days a week combining education, coaching and strength and conditioning training with the help of District L Fitness in Penrith.
The new owners of the Newton Rigg site are improving the facilities with a new all weather pitch recently being moved.
The Institute’s football side also received a boost when League One club Morecambe agreed to become partners.
In doing so, the Shrimp will keep an eye on the young players on the Institute’s books, with training and playing opportunities.
Edmondson said: “Morecambe is similar to Carlisle in terms of recruitment budgets when I was academy manager there – clubs at this level don’t tend to have very large recruitment budgets at all.
“So when I spoke to Greg Strong, Head of Recruitment at Morecambe, and Stewart Drummond, Head of the Academy, about this, they were keen to get involved and expand their scouting networks.
“It ticked both boxes. We can now develop as Morecambe, which is great and means Cumbria footballers have more eyes on them.
“There’s Carlisle and Barrow but they can only take a limited number so we have the opportunity to bring young players to Newton Rigg and then Morecambe keeps an eye on them in terms of training, play and development.
“It is a promising partnership. There will be some training days and practice games and Morecambe has committed to that.
“I played with Stewart at Chester and faced him a few times as a coach when I was at Carlisle and Rochdale. We were often in contact.
“It’s good news for Cumbria that young footballers will have the eyes of a League One club.”
Edmondson said the institute is still open to recruiting more students. More information can be found HERE on the website