Ex-PNE man Matt offers a way back

Matt Hill during his spell with Preston North End

Matt Hill during his spell with Preston North End

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Former Preston North End defender Matt Hill is looking to provide young footballers with a route into the professional game.

Hill has set up the 4 Pro Academy which will provide coaching and sports science support to youngsters who are not attached to a professional club.

It will be based at Corpus Christi Catholic High School in Fulwood, and trials are taking place this month for children aged 12-16.

Left-back Hill made 105 appearances for North End between 2005 and 2008 after signing from Bristol City.

He went on to play for Wolves, Queens Park Rangers, Blackpool and Sheffield United.

Hill has kept his family home in Preston since leaving PNE and is keen to help young players in the area get a foothold when it comes to trying to making it as a pro.

“I know how hard it is to be a professional footballer, let alone be a young person trying to make it in the game in the first place,” Hill told the Evening Post.

“A lot of players get released from clubs’ academies for various reasons – they might be a late developer or sometimes teams have lacked a bit of patience with their development.

“Or it might have been a case that they haven’t been scouted by a club in the first place.

“What we at 4 Pro are looking to do is give the kids an elite-standard academy to work at, give them the training and development programme needed.

“They will get the chance to play against professional clubs’ academies where scouts will hopefully be in attendance.

“This is aimed at children aged between 12 and 16, which is Year 7 to 11 at secondary school.

“In the long run we would hope that some will be get spotted by professional clubs and get signed up for their academies.

“Working alongside me is Michael O’Neill who has worked at a Championship club’s academy.

“Between us we have a lot of knowledge of the game at grassroots level and I’ve got my experience as a professional footballer.

“It would give me a great deal of satisfaction to see children progress through our academy and get signed up by a professional club.”

The trials take place at Corpus Christi High School, St Vincent’s Road, on Monday, August 11, Thursday, August 21 and Wednesday, August 27. They run between 6pm and 8.30pm on all three nights.

Places must be pre-booked through the 4 Pro website www.4-pro.co.uk.

Hill, 33, is currently on the look out for a new club for the forthcoming season after leaving Sheffield United in the summer. He has been training with Fleetwood Town in the last couple of weeks.