Trevor Sinclair looks to build on the success of his academy, in order to provide a different opportunity for young people on the Fylde coast.
The company was founded three and a half years ago by ex-professional footballer Sinclair and Fleetwood Town legend Jamie Milligan, who now both own and coach the academy.
Sinclair was originally approached to be an ambassador for the academy however the former-England international wanted to be more involved.
“They wanted me to be an ambassador and offered me a certain amount of money to do that and use my name for some sound bytes and promote their company,” Sinclair said. “I decided I wanted to get more involved and I ended up owning it. Myself and Jamie, are really proud of what we have achieved over the last three and a half years and we want to achieve more.”
“It’s a fantastic environment to learn,” he said, speaking about the academy. “It actually feels like a big family, we haven’t got the biggest resources, not got the best training ground, but the work we do, we feel its exceptional.”
The academy has grown from 15 players in their first year of operation, to 60 just over three years later and have also won an under 18’s Lancashire FA Youth Tournament in the meantime.
Pro Direct have also produced one professional player so far, when George Thomason signed for Bolton Wanderers last year, on a two-year professional deal.
However, the former Blackpool winger believes the academy is more than just turning their players into professional footballers.
“It’s not trying to make everyone a fantastic footballer and help them become a pro. It’s just trying to help them become the best version of themselves in whatever they want to be. Although it might be through the vehicle of football, they might want to go into the Army, or go and take an apprenticeship,” he said.
“But what we’re trying to engrave into their personality is that they come in, work hard every day and they’re on time and have a laugh along the way. But once it’s worktime they get on with it and become confident young people and that’s what we’re trying to teach.”
As part of the academy experience, Sinclair and Milligan send out some of their players to trial and play for semi-professional and professional sides in order to help their development. Something which the former Manchester City man believes can give his academy an edge over others.
He said: “We put our players in against men at 16 and by the time their 18, say if they come against a Blackpool player or a Preston player whose been playing against under 18s for that two years, our players have got a good chance of being more developed than the players at the pro clubs. We make sure we’re selective with it and that physically they’re alright to deal with that environment first.”
Sinclair has managed to follow government coronavirus guidelines and re-open the academy. He is happy to finally see his players back enjoying football again.
He said: “To get them back into training and get them amongst each other, to get that camaraderie and releasing them endorphins when you train. We feel that’s been great for the mental wellbeing of our players, we’re quite proud.”
Trevor believes the academy has still got a lot more room for growth and believes he can offer an even better opportunity for young people on the Fylde Coast in the future, as he hopes to own his own facility for the company.
“I think eventually we would like to own our very own facility and make it a really fantastic choice for young people in our community on the Fylde Coast,” he said. “If you want to have a go becoming a footballer and picking up some really good habits as a young person and still be educated it’s the place to go.”