On Tuesday 5th October Will Armitage became the youngest player to make his debut for the Cheltenham Town first team in a professional competition at just 16 years old.
Will, 16, began playing football from the age of 5 and has always dreamt of becoming a professional footballer. He enjoyed playing for his local club Portishead Juniors for 9 years and played for 5 years at North Somerset Regional Talent Centre where he further enhanced his skills. Will was scouted and did a trial for Cheltenham Town Football Club, his trial was successful and he succeeded in becoming a CTFC Academy scholar.
As a first-year scholar Will attends All Saints’ Academy Sixth Form part time where he studies Sporting Excellence as an extended diploma (equivalent to 3 A Levels). He then trains with CTFC Academy the remainder of the week. When the opportunity arises Will also trains with the first team.
Mr Pierce, PE Teacher at All Saints’ Academy said ‘It was a proud moment for All Saints’ Academy to watch Will start for Cheltenham Town in the Papa John’s Cup in hopefully the first of many first team starts for such a fantastic student. A great credit to Will who has become the youngest player to make a senior start. Will should also be recognised for his studious approach and dedication to his academic and sporting studies.’
Centre-back, Will, made a brilliant start to his football career when he debuted against Exeter. He said ‘I gain so much from training and playing with the first team. I played the whole of the pre-season with them. Last night was even better as it was a cup match, the Papa John’s Trophy. The first team are professional footballers who do this for a living, they have lots of experience so there is so much that I can learn from them.’
‘I aspire to become a professional footballer and get a professional contract. It is also really important to me that I continue with my course and complete my academic studies to the best of my ability.’
‘My advice to young aspiring footballers would be to work hard, be resilient and keep your aspirations high. I haven’t always been successful on my footballing journey and this has spurred me on to try even harder and get into Cheltenham Town Football Academy. I have worked hard to get an opportunity to play with the first team. My parents did a lot of driving for me to have opportunities which I am very grateful for.’
Will’s Dad, David Armitage said ‘We’re very proud of Will making his senior debut for CTFC. He has shown determination and hard work to achieve this first step and we are grateful for the opportunities he’s been given which will hopefully lead to a long and successful career.’
Antoine Thompson, CTFC Academy Manager commented ‘We are very proud of Will, becoming the youngest ever CTFC player to make an appearance in the Pro League is a huge achievement. Will’s professionalism, dedication and hard work on and off the pitch is testament to his success.’