GUISELEY'S highly successful academy has introduced a new elite scholarship programme for female footballers, currently in Years 11 and 12, to commence this September.

The Lions have joined up with Guiseley School who will deliver a bespoke programme that meets players’ educational needs.

It will mirror that of the boys' academy which has proved to be so successful over the past five years.

The girls' academy will be coached by UEFA-licensed coaches on a daily basis and will compete at the highest level in youth football with opportunities to progress into the Guiseley Vixens set-up, other local clubs and beyond.

The new development will run in conjunction with the club’s community programme and will give female scholars the opportunity to gain coaching qualifications and work experience.

Lions head of youth Dave Currie said: "Girls' football is growing rapidly in the UK and a girls' academy is something we have been thinking of doing for a while now.

"Despite the growth in the girls' game, there aren’t many opportunities beyond secondary school age, so hopefully, this keeps girls playing the game into adulthood.

"The head teacher at Guiseley School, Paul Clayton, has been excellent in providing a wide curriculum that will allow the girls to achieve in education.”

Clayton said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the girls to tap into the proven quality of post-16 provision we have here at the school while maintaining their ambitions to progress at the highest level in the game.”

Phil Rogerson, chairman of Guiseley Community Foundation, added: "I think this is a very positive step forward that builds on the success of the boys' academy and offers great opportunities for girls to build their footballing skills whilst remaining in full time education.

"This will allow them to aspire to their dream of a career in football whilst having the backing of high level qualifications and coaching experience should they need a plan B as a fall back."

Guiseley AFC have had an associated women's team for many years and the current side, Guiseley Vixens, play in the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division. They also have a development squad.