Hartpury University students crowned football champions after outstanding year for Hartpury Football


Hartpury University’s men’s first team are aiming to become national football champions after winning their Premier League in brilliant style.

Hartpury’s men wrapped up the British University and Colleges (BUCS) Premier South League title by winning eight of their nine pre-Christmas matches. With just one January fixture remaining, they have retained their Premier League crown.

Having scored 27 goals and conceded just 5, Hartpury University maintains a 22-strong goal difference statistic heading into 2022. The team is captained and vice-captained by Stephen Sarkodie and Thomas Handley respectively, both BA (Hons) Sports Business Management students.

The team will now look ahead to February’s National Championship knockout. Once again, students have benefited from a team of experienced coaching staff led by Senior Men’s Football Manager and Hartpury University graduate Chris Knowles (MSc Coaching Science - now MSc Sports Coaching). He is supported by Senior Football Coach and Hartpury graduate Spencer Hamilton (MSc Professional Development (Coaching Science – now MSc Professional Development in Sports Coaching)).

The coaching team is further assisted with help from Head of Analysis Phil Clarke, a former MSc Coaching Science student, and fellow graduate Tom Staten (BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching) who provides sports psychology support.

Marc Richards, Assistant Director of Elite Sport at Hartpury said: “The hard work of all involved has paid off and we’re delighted that the squad has won the BUCS Premier South League title once again.

“Despite another challenging year, the players and backroom staff have applied themselves professionally and enthusiastically. The results across both our men’s and women’s teams this year is testament to the Hartpury Football Academy’s well-established pathway. As a TASS Dual Career Accredited Site, we provide students with the support they need to fulfil their sporting ambitions alongside studying for a range of high-quality academic college or university qualifications.”

Men’s BUCS 2nd & 3rd Team and Hartpury University 4th Team

Hartpury University BUCS second team, coached by Hartpury graduate Josh Thomas (BSc (Hons) Sports Business Management) have won six of their nine games played. Hartpury University BUCS third team, coached by former Gloucester City midfielder Alex Hainault and Hartpury Master’s graduate, have also won the majority of games played (five wins from seven games). Hartpury University’s fourth team held on for a 1-0 victory against the University of Worcester 5th team on 8 December in just their second game of the season.

Hartpury University FC

Hartpury University FC currently sit top of the table in the Herefordshire FA County Saturday Premier League having won ten of their ten games played so far. They’ll now face Wellington Rangers on 15 January following the postponement of their intended December match-up.

Should their run of impressive results continue, they remain well placed for the semi-final of the Herefordshire FA County Cup, the Quarter-final of the Herefordshire FA Charity Bowl and an appearance in the last sixteen of the Gloucestershire FA Challenge Trophy.

The team comprises of 16–26-year-old student-athletes from college, undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study. They combine their FC commitments with their academic studies in what is a full-time football education programme with the aim of maximising their potential. For some, this will result in them realising their dream of becoming a professional footballer. Many others will progress into supporting roles in areas such as coaching, strength and conditioning, sports business, sports therapy, nutrition and performance analysis, helped by a diverse range of college diplomas and university degrees.

Head Coach, Dr Martin Longworth said: “It’s been a brilliant start to the season and we find ourselves still in three cup competitions and top of the league. Not only that, but we have a great bunch of student-athletes who’ve each contributed to our team culture. Whilst the results speak for themselves, it’s the process of how we’ve got there that impresses me most and I must pay tribute to the individuals on the pitch and also behind the scenes. Let’s hope we can continue the good work in 2022.”

Hartpury University BUCS Women 1st Team

Hartpury University BUCS Senior Women are playing in Women’s Western Tier 1 of the BUCS league with aspirations for promotion to BUCS Women’s Premier South in the new year. In their most recent game, they beat Cardiff University 2-1. They’ll meet Bournemouth University on Hartpury home turf on 26 January 2022, needing to win to keep the pressure on Solent University 1st Team who currently sit first. They’ll meet Bournemouth University Girls on Hartpury home turf on the 26 January 2022.

Hartpury College: Men’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Teams

The Hartpury College men’s first team have won five of their nine games played and will meet Thomas Telford School in late January. With the bulk of their games still to play, Hartpury College men’s second team have put in some good performances so far including a 4-0 win against Cirencester College in October and a 4-3 thriller against TNS North Shropshire College in November. 2021 ends with a treble of consecutive wins for the Hartpury College men’s third team and a recent 4-0 victory against Sandwell College for Hartpury College men’s fourth team.

Hartpury College: Women’s 1st and 2nd Team

The Hartpury College Women’s Football Academy is made up of Junior Women’s first and second teams. The first team is competing in the ECFA Women’s National Premier League and is sitting in a good position with many fixtures yet to come. The second team is competing in the ECFA Midlands League.

In the ESFA Under-18 Super League, Hartpury’s women will face Sandwell in the knockout phase of the competition. Hartpury student and Junior Women’s first team player Jessie Wills (BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma Sport and Exercise Science) has picked up her first England cap having been selected for the ECFA national team.

Off the pitch, Hartpury has established the Women’s Football Academy Coach Development Group for its women’s football players who also have an interest within the Coaching Pathway. The workshops provide a unique opportunity to learn more about qualifications available along the FA Coaching Pathway and are delivered by Stacey Miles, Regional Coach Development Officer at the FA.

Women’s Futsal

Hartpury BUCS Women’s Futsal team played three matches during this first semester with two wins and draw (Hartpury University vs Cardiff University 5-0, Hartpury University vs University of Gloucestershire 13-2, Cardiff University vs Hartpury University 5-5).

A partnership with Worcester Futsal Club means Hartpury was allowed to offer its players a pathway to the top level of futsal in England via the National Futsal Series – Women’s Super-Series North Division. A total of 14 current and former Hartpury student-players are registered with Worcester Futsal Club helping to secure top spot in the league, despite the club only being founded six months ago. In the second semester, the top four teams from the south will face the top four teams from the north.

Leah Burridge, current Women’s Football and Futsal Manager has been well supported by Jessica Screen (MSc Sports Coaching student), Antonia Butcher (Senior Women’s Football Head Coach) and Luciana Silva (Futsal Head Coach). Leah combines her role at Hartpury with playing at Bridgwater Town Women, where she is due to play Manchester United Women in the next round of the FA Cup on 30 January 2022.

Football at Hartpury

Students have the opportunity to improve all aspects of their game with access to leading specialist facilities including two all-weather 3G pitches and three grass pitches. In addition to Sports Academy facilities such as human performance and biomechanics laboratories, a support team comprising strength and conditioning coaches, physiotherapists and nutritionists complement athlete preparation and analysis. As a Dual Career Accredited Site, Hartpury is an important extension of a network of universities partnered with TASS – which is backed by Sport England – delivering core support services to student athletes.

Watch the sporting action from Hartpury live, via the Hartpury Sport TV YouTube channel.

Learn more about Hartpury College sports diplomas and Hartpury University sports degrees.

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