It was a day to remember for students of the Leyton Orient Trust (LOT) recently as they had the opportunity to question two of the Leyton Orient first team squad.
Midfielder Bradley Pritchard and defender, Alan Dunne, were on hand to share their playing experiences and give advice to the budding stars as part of the LOT induction week.
During the afternoon, the professionals were quizzed with questions ranging from what their best playing experience was to choosing between Messi and Ronaldo; in this case Messi won!
Lendry Gagor, first year BTEC student, said: “It felt wonderful meeting the players to be honest. They are professionals and I can only learn from them. »
But it wasn’t only the BTEC students that were enthusiastic about the afternoon, as new recruit to the O’s team, Alan Dunne, expressed his views on how important programmes like these are to young people.
‘You do need to have an education as well as having the skills to be a footballer,” said Dunne. We can’t all be professionals. Hopefully by us sharing our stories we will help the students to see how hard it can be and what needs to be done to become a professional athlete as well as to contemplate their future after football”
These students are part of the LOT programme set up to have a positive impact on the lives of disadvantaged Londoners by providing them with sports, educational and leisure projects. The idea is to have students play sport whilst gaining qualifications i.e.acquiring BTEC awards along with training full time.
Since the Trust was set up, over £30 million has been invested into the local communities to provide these opportunities to young adults starting their journey. It has been a successful start with the likes of Sandro Semedo, who commenced the programme two years ago, progressed through the Leyton Orient youth team and is now part of the first-team squad.
This year around 100 students from east London are on BTEC sport courses, level one to level three. They are full time with the Trust throughout the week. Football training is scheduled around their studies with matches played every Wednesday. Three teams are filled for local College Leagues, and one Premier League under 19’s development team.
The programme is linked to Waltham Forest College where four full time teachers dedicated to the course are based. There are also full time coaches and support staff working alongside the educational side to provide a high standard of sport.
It is based on creating, developing, delivering and enhancing the opportunities which are given to young people by providing them with that alternative option of education which more and more students are now looking for. The Leyton Orient Trust is devoted to the education and sporting successes of all the students going through the programme, and who knows, maybe the next Leyton Orient star was inspired by their role models today.