Priestley footballer secures America scholarship

A FOOTBALLER who has been awarded a scholarship at an international performance centre believes it is proof hard work pays off.

Jamie Benson, 18, will head to North Carolina later this year after proving himself to US coaches thanks to support from Dan Jordan, head of football Priestley College.

After discovering he had a place at Combine Academy, Jamie was thrilled following years of dedication to his sport.

“I kept thinking ‘who knew Jamie Benson from Appleton could get this opportunity?’” he said.

“I had some nerves because it is a long way from my family, but that was overridden by the sheer excitement that I could be fulfilling my dream and this is probably the best opportunity I might get to actually make it.

“It’s recognition for all my focus and determination in bettering my ability, fitness and techniques.”

Jamie, who studied Business Studies and Finance alongside PE at Priestley, had to demonstrate his skills on the pitch as well as his academic prowess in order to win a scholarship.

The former Bridgewater High pupil had travelled to America with Priestley on a football tour and was impressed by the facilities and approach to sport in the college system.

Back in England he took part in trials and fitness tests at a seminar in Manchester and was approached by an agency who wanted to sign him up with a guarantee of playing in America, but this came at a cost.

“Dan told me to believe in myself and that I didn’t need an agency. We spoke to Bob Reasso who is the head soccer coach at Combine and now I’ve been offered my scholarship,” said Jamie.

Combine’s newest recruit is the second Priestley student in recent years to be awarded a prestigious scholarship in America after Joe Salter was accepted into St Ambrose College in Iowa.

Dan, who has spearheaded Priestley’s goal of encouraging students to consider the US as an option, said those who won a place would benefit from a different ethos.

“The mentality of US soccer is completely different to that in the UK,” he said.

“Quite often clubs want to keep their best players in the UK because they improve their team. In the US college system it is their job to do everything they can to improve players and then help them to make the next step up. A philosophy that we try to mirror at Priestley College.”