Dundalk FC and DkIT have joined forces to create the Soccer Scholarship Academy, a programme that will allow students to combine their third level studies with playing for the Lilywhites.
The scheme, which was launched in front of Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown on Monday, is open to both Leaving Certificate students and mature students.
A total of four scholarships will be available each year for the next three years. Under the programme, a successful candidate’s performance will be assessed annually, both academically and by their performance on the pitch. They will also assist as student ambassadors on college Open Days and in school recruitment initiatives as well as playing on the college teams.
The scheme coincides with the purchase of the DkIT Sport facility (formerly the JJB Soccerdome), which is due to open in September. Players can avail of the gym and indoor football facilities, allowing them to continue with strength and conditioning training on campus.
As part of the deal, the DkIT logo will to emblazoned across the back of Dundalk’s home and away shirts this season.
Speaking at the launch on Monday, DkIT President Denis Cummins said that he was delighted that the college is in a position to create opportunities for footballers to pursue their careers whilst fulfilling their academic potential.
“This is a project I am particularly keen to support as it is very close to my heart and I am delighted about it. We are offering opportunities to students who may not otherwise get to avail of this chance.
“Four out of five of our students are first generation students and our graduates have made a huge contribution to development across a number of areas in the north east.
“We recognise the enormous contribution of sport on a person’s development. Those who avail of the scholarships can choose any programme and will become ambassadors for the college. We aim to establish a soccer club in place of a soccer team and hope that this can help make an impact on the sport not only locally but also within the wider areas around Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Cavan.”
Dundalk FC Club Chairman Ciaran Bond also expressed his support for the initiative saying that the scheme is in keeping with DkIT and Dundalk FC’s shared philosophy of “contributing to the betterment of the economic and social life of the North-East region.”
“From a personal perspective, I have seen first hand how beneficial sport and education can be in a young person’s development.
“I have been involved in youth football in Dundalk for many years, particularly in disadvantaged areas and sport and education is crucial in giving young people the tools to develop their personal and professional lives.”