YouTube team turned semi-professional club Hashtag United has launched its own academy sports and education programme, with the intention to grow the club’s operations and provide young footballers with opportunities at a semi-professional level.
The programme, which aims to coach aspiring footballers and provide educational qualifications, will be available for people aged 16-19, of any gender.
Initially the qualifications the new programme will offer includes BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science and BTEC Level 2 in Sport, with dedicated classroom time implemented.
Hashtag United will guarantee at least one student will be offered a paid role at the club, currently apply itself in the ninth division, upon completion of its education programme every year.
Meanwhile on the pitch, training will be delivered by a UEFA B level coach and students will be provided with opportunities to represent Hashtag’s academy team.
The lessons will be taught at Hashtag’s new home, the Bowers & Pitsea facility in Essex, which includes a FIFA approved 4G pitch alongside news changing rooms and classrooms.
Hashtag United’s senior team will also be using the facilities next season, allowing the students to be fully embedded within the culture of the team.
The sports and education programme will officially begin in September, 2020, coinciding with the club’s move to the new ground next season. However, the side will be hosting its first trials for its 2020/21 class in the Easter holidays.
This will be Hashtag United’s fourth academy project since its inception. Prior to the programme the club used its social media influence, particularly on YouTube to create the academy ‘series’.
The YouTube shows were subsequently won by Harry Hesketh, the team’s FIFA esports player, Scott Pollock, who now plays for Northampton Town, and Joshua Osude after securing a guaranteed contract with the club last year.
Insider Insight: Hashtag United are seen as the first football club to transcend its position in the football pyramid. After initially starting out as a YouTube channel, the club now boasts one of the most popular English clubs outside of the football league through its use of social media.
The announcement of its new academy programme showcases that any club can garner a fan base and marketing opportunities despite only being in England’s lower leagues.