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Jet-heeled Academy set their sights high

PUBLISHED: 17:37 15 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:37 24 August 2010

Jeta Bytyqi

Jeta Bytyqi

By Ian Cooper A NEW girl s football academy has already produced one star of the future, and is now searching the borough for more up and coming talent. The INAM Academy at Paddington Recreation Ground, Maida Vale, holds weekly football sessions for girls

By Ian Cooper

A NEW girl's football academy has already produced one star of the future, and is now searching the borough for more up and coming talent.

The INAM Academy at Paddington Recreation Ground, Maida Vale, holds weekly football sessions for girls through school years three to nine.

Run by a dedicated team of volunteers, popularity has soared since its opening in March, and last month 15-year-old Jeta Bytyqi set a precedent when she became the first of the academy's players to be accepted by the Middlesex Centre of Excellence.

Jeta, from Church Road in Harlesden, was selected within weeks of joining the academy.

Sam Essien, who founded the academy, said: "I think she's good enough to play for a professional club one day. She's got the commitment, the heart, and a good background.

"It just goes to show what happens when self-esteem kicks in. Jeta has gone from only occasionally playing football to being selected for the Middlesex squad.

"She's a role model for the other girls. She's now looking at a level one coaching course in September, so it's about overall development, not just football skills.

Essien is now working in conjunction with schools in the borough, having already established links with Oakington Manor School in Wembley, and he believes there is both the talent and enthusiasm to see girls' football take off in Brent.

Currently there are 13 girls training in a mixed group at the INAM academy, which takes its name from the International Ambassadors Programme, but as numbers increase the plan is to divide members into age groups.

"There's a real market place for girls' football which we are trying to tap into," added Essien, who runs the academy alongside two female coaches. "There is a Brent boys team, but not a Brent girls team. That isn't right, and we want to change it.

"We want to talk to more schools and bring in more coaches and volunteers. Brent is historically a footballing borough, and we want to continue that."

The INAM Academy is always on the lookout for new members ahead of their trials in September. Anyone aged 16 or over can also enrol to take a level one coaching course. Contact Sam Essien on 07917840587 for details.


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