FORMER Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls star, Jamie Peacock has praised Ilkley Town's new partnership with a Menston secondary school.

St. Mary's Menston Catholic Voluntary Academy are launching a football scholarship programme with the club and the Aire Wharfe Elite Football Centre.

The programme offers the opportunity for both sexes entering year 12 in September to study a full range of A -level and BTEC qualifications, whilst receiving professional level football coaching and entry into the national colleges league.

There will also be a strong emphasis on personal development and developing skills that will benefit students throughout their life.

The AW centre has been active for 18 months and is a performance-based football academy that accelerates the development of players who are enjoying success at a community and grassroots level.

Peacock, who came through a similar system himself, thinks it will be a great initiative for sixth form students at the school.

He said: "I think the partnership is a fantastic idea.

"I started out my career at the Bradford Bulls on a scholarship, getting an education whilst developing my rugby skills.

"My message to any students wanting to go on the course is, go for it!

"Make sure you understand that your studies are just as important as playing football.

"Try and bring your best to everything you do."

The Baht 'atters will provide opportunities for students to play at first team, under 23 and under 21 level.

The West Yorkshire League Premier Division team were forced into deferring their plans to enter the semi-professional leagues until next year, after the 2019/20 campaign was voided.

Town manager, Simon Armstrong, insists bringing through youngsters into the first team is crucial to create a successful football club.

He said: "We will provide players on the programme with the opportunity to play senior football.

"Our emphasis throughout the club is on player development.

"We have a great coaching team and provide a supportive environment for young players to come into.

"We are already starting to see positive results with the first team, fielding as many as eight under 21's in some fixtures."

St. Mary's headmaster, Darren Beardsley, is also delighted with the scholarship.

He said: “Our programme focuses on the holistic development of the young person.

"We believe, at this age the best thing for young people is to keep all their options open.

"Our programme gives young people the best possible chance to maximise future opportunities.

"It will enable students to establish a foothold into the future in a way that will really make them stand out."

For those interested, email Steve Curran at, ring 07914840024, or visit Town's website.