Golf academy has wide-reaching appeal

FINBOROUGH School's fledging gold academy has taken on international status following the coup of two promising young Spaniards.

Stuart Watson

FINBOROUGH School's fledging gold academy has taken on international status following the coup of two promising young Spaniards.

Word of Simon Sinclair's ambitious junior golf project in mid-Suffolk has found its way across the continent and, as a result, brothers Carlos and Juan Gomez have travelled over to join the scheme which combines golf coaching and academic studies.

The scheme - which ultimately wants to create a platform for youngsters into the professional game - is split into three levels of ability and the Spaniards, who are 14 and 12-years-old respectively, now make up half of the project's elite tier.

The pair are living in Suffolk and, like the rest of the academy, will receive up to eight hours of golf tuition a week.

Sinclair, the school's Director of Sport, explained: “It all came about when a Spanish agent heard about the academy. The two boys came over and they have settled in very well.

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“We've got one more lot coming over in January for the summer term too.

“It's a great honour to be attracting pupils from abroad, but we also want to make sure we grow the local talent too.”

The idea for the academy, which is run in partnership with the closely situated Stowmarket Golf Centre, came after Sinclair visited Loretto School in Scotland to look at a similar project.

So impressed was he with the scheme that he immediately set about creating the Finborough School Golf Academy earlier this year and, by June, it had attracted its first ever 'Elite' player in the form of 12-year-old Josh Cantwell.

Cantwell, who recently won the Stowmarket Golf Club Junior Championships, has since been joined by 12-year-old Giles Buck.

Buck's elevation from the intermediate group is particularly impressive as, less than three months ago, it was feared he would never played sport again after he suffered a freak injury playing football.

The injury, which saw his shinpad break and cut deeply into his leg below the knee, has stopped him playing contact sport, however, golf has helped his rehabilitation.

Below the quartet of elite players and the intermediate group is a large beginners group for interested pupils to receive an introduction the game.

Sinclair now has plans to take his academy up to play a tournament against Loretto School in Scotland next summer and then go on to Spain in October to form links with the Gomez brothers' home school.

SIMON Sinclair is proud of the progress Finborough School has made in terms of providing sporting opportunities.

In addition to the impressive new Golf Academy, Finborough has formed strong links with Stowmarket Tennis Club.

As a result, two of Finborough's preparatory school pupils took top honours at the tennis club's junior championships. Katy Bidwell won the Under-10s girls' competition, while Sid Griffiths won the U10s boys' tournament.

Meanwhile, in another step forward, new staff member Chris Berry is leading a move into gymnastics, initially for the Prep Three and Prep Four girls, with plans to expand this to other age groups.

Elsewhere, Charlotte Christensen continues to go from strength-to-strength with her running. The 15-year-old recently represented the East of England at Bath University, despite running in an age group a year older than herself.

In addition, Sinclair, who himself is a respected rugby coach at the Northampton Saints' Elite Player Development Group (EPDG), has brought in 70-year-old Keith Hammond as a football coach after a chance meeting.

Hammond was the coach who inspired Sinclair as a junior player at the Stowmarket Falcons 20 years ago and, when Sincalir bumped into him again at a recent football festival, he was keen to get him on board at Finborough School.

He explained: “Keith came up to the school recently for a football festival as coach for Mendlesham under eights. It was great to see him still involved - and I was determined to get him involved at Finborough too.

“It is fantastic to have such a good coach in for our football,” said Sincalir. “The boys really respond to his enthusiasm and patience - and for me, it is like having part of the family back, which is really what Finborough School is all about.”

Looking ahead, Finborough School will host a regional U12s rugby festival this weekend which will be attended by 16 schools from around the eastern region.

The event, sponsored by Touchline Sports, has been organised in association with Northampton Saints and some of the Saints players are due to come along to present the prizes.

Sinclair said: “With the inspiration from the Olympic Games triumphs and the increasing awareness of how vital it is for children to be fit and active, there has never been a better time to encourage youngsters to take up a range of sports.

“We believe that to have more professional coaches in the different fields is the way forward and adds value to the school. We are proud of our pupils' continuing achievements.”

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