Twenty-two teenagers have scored free travel to support their sports development with Luton Town FC – the 'Hatters' – thanks to train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the operator that runs Thameslink and Great Northern train services.
This is now the 12th year of partnership between Luton Town FC and GTR supporting the club’s youth development programme. It has helped hundreds of youngsters gain skills and confidence through sport while studying for a BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport or A-levels at local schools and colleges.
The 22 youngsters, aged 16 to 19, come from across the operator's network and would struggle to afford the travel needed to get to training with the Luton Town FC Football Programme at Cedars Upper School in Leighton Buzzard and The Arena in Baldock. While a couple of the teenagers are Luton based, others travel from Bedford, Flitwick, Harpenden, St Albans, Enfield, Hackney, Stoke Newington and Loughton.
Head of Education and Welfare at the Hatters’ Academy, Dale Brunton, explained: “We are really proud of the development opportunities we are able to give the youngsters, but that is only made possible with GTR’s help. These teenagers come from a variety of backgrounds and situations and could not afford to be with us without the travel passes. All the people involved in this scheme, both staff and students, are very appreciative of the help GTR give us.”
Tom Moran, Managing Director of Thameslink and Great Northern, said: "Hats off to Luton Town for what they achieve with their youth development programme – I’m really pleased we are able to help so many teenagers continue their education and have the opportunity to transform their lives.
"We work a lot with youngsters, including organising 'Get into Railways' programme with The Prince's Trust charity, which helps up to 60 disadvantaged individuals every year, and have given safety talks to 18,000 children at schools along our Thameslink and Great Northern routes. All this work helps us make a difference to people's lives and I wish this group of footballers the best for the coming year, he added.”
Luton Town FC run their two football education programmes in Leighton Buzzard and Baldock that allow 16-year-old school-leavers to participate in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport and A-levels, giving them a minimum of 16 hours of academic tuition per week plus 12 hours of football coaching each week from highly qualified Luton Town coaching staff. This includes studying for their FA Level 1 and Level 2 coaching badges. The boys play matches each week in the National League Youth Alliance against some of the top professional clubs in the country, and in recent seasons the teams at both sites have won several regional league and cup competitions.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria