FORMER Southend United skipper Adam Barrett has teamed up with Olympic pole vaulter Kevin Hughes to offer talented youngsters sporting scholarships.

Barrett, who now captains League One side Gillingham, heads up the newly formed Players Football Academy in Thundersley.

And he has now moved that forward with Hughes at the newly formed Studio School in Basildon to help even more budding young footballers.

“It’s fantastic how well things have been moving forward and that we can now offer scholarships from September,” said Barrett, 34.

“I met Kevin through chance really, but it’s come at a perfect time for us both because it’s ideal for my academy and also the Studio School he’s working at.

“Anyone who comes in here will get to train like they would at a professional club and they will also have the exposure to try to get into the professional game.

“But they will also be in the classroom studying towards qualifications and we can help them get in to university if that’s the path they choose to go down.”

The scholarships are open for anyone aged between 16 and 19 and those involved will enjoy daily training sessions at Basildon’s Gloucester Park.

The team will play regular matches in the Essex Colleges League and will also take on professional clubs in a number of friendlies.

As well as that, an annual trip to Dusseldorf, in Germany, will be taking place.

Hughes is also thrilled to have become involved in the programme.

“We’re quite a new school and we’re looking to specialise in health and sport so we’re really pleased to have teamed up with Adam and his academy,” said Hughes.

“It’s exciting for us both and the area we’re both from and between us we certainly have an awful lot to be able to offer the kids.”

Barrett is already working towards creating links with nearby professional clubs to help give their released players a route back into the game.

“This is something I’ve really wanted to do for a while now and I can’t wait to get going with it,” said the former Belfairs High School pupil. “It’s all funded so those coming in don’t need to pay and we will cover all aspects of the game, both on and off the pitch to give them the best chance possible of becoming a professional footballer.”

Barrett plans to hold an open day and a trial for any players interested in coming in before the end of the April.

Anyone interested in attending should email him at or contact him via the school on 01268 240300.

Barrett and Hughes are also looking for a company to sponsor the kit of the scholars.