Two Newcastle United employees have been recognised among the most advanced youth coaches in European football after graduating from the continent's first ever Elite Coaches Award course.
Liam Bramley, the Academy's under-16s coach, and Neil Winskill, football development manager at Newcastle United Foundation, have successfully completed the programme under the Football Association (FA) after it became the first national governing body to run such a scheme under UEFA - the game's European guardians.
All professional coaches must earn three defined licences in order to manage clubs at the top level of the game, namely the UEFA A licence, UEFA B licence and finally the UEFA Pro Licence, alongside which Liam and Neil's Elite Coaches Award sits.
They were selected onto the Elite Coaches Award alongside 14 other coaches in November 2011 after impressing during the UEFA A licence course and, almost two years later, Liam and Neil have finally collected their awards from Sir Trevor Brooking, FA director of football development, at its National Football Centre - St. George's Park in Burton.
Neil said: "To be selected onto this course was a real privilege. Liam and I have been able to work with some of the best tutors and young coaches in the country whilst proudly representing Newcastle United and the region. We are thrilled to have completed the course."
The course's North-East contingent was completed by Ben Dawson, a former Newcastle United Foundation employee and now an FA youth coach educator, with the Tyneside trio completing a series of assignments, assessed coaching sessions and intensive study weeks under the tutelage of a number of top level coaches including mentor and current Cardiff City Academy manager, Dick Bate.
They have also travelled across Europe to visit some of football's most prestigious clubs, including educational trips to Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax Amsterdam and Juventus, and sessions with leading professionals in sport and sports medicine - including Newcastle Falcons head coach Dean Richards, Newcastle Eagles head coach Fabulous Flournoy and former head coach of the England and Ireland national rugby union teams, Brian Ashton.
Neil, who won the Sport Newcastle Stan Calvert Award for coaching in March 2013, added: "We have also been lucky enough to visit many top people in this country and abroad to expand our understanding of the game and the best way to teach it.
"It has provided us with an even clearer philosophy on the game and has significantly improved us as coaches so we're looking forward to applying everything we have learnt for the benefit of players developing within the Newcastle United Foundation and the club's Academy structure."
To find out more about how the Newcastle United Foundation is using the power of football to change the lives of more than 38,000 young people, adults and families across the region each year, visit www.nufc.co.uk/foundation or call 0844 372 1892 (ext 8451).