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James Howell, King Edward’s Witley pupil, retained by Portsmouth Football Club
22nd May 2019

James Howell from Godalming and a King Edward’s Witley Sports Scholar, has retained his place in the combined Under 15 and 16 Portsmouth Football Club’s (Portsmouth FC) Elite Academy for a further two years. This is despite returning to training in January from an injury which left him just four months to return to form and win his place. 

James has been playing for Portsmouth FC academy for seven years after he first secured a place in the Under 8 academy team. James was spotted by Portsmouth FC at the Beacon Hill FC tournament whilst playing for Farncombe Youth FC.  He is only one of three boys who has consistently played, and been retained, from the original 100 or so who trialled for the development squad at U8 level. 

James said, “I am so happy to have been retained. I have worked hard to come back from an injury and feel rewarded for all the hours and tough sessions of physio and training.  I am grateful for the facilities and the staff at Hillsea, the Club’s training ground, and at King Edward’s, for helping get me back to full fitness so I could keep my place in the squad.”

Mr Daren Howell, James’s father said, “My wife and I are so proud of James. His level of dedication to training and to always play his best is admirable and has been consistent all through his football career. He deserves this success. This year has been the toughest selection process as the U14 academy squad halved in May. The balance of being an elite sportsman and maintaining academic work is challenging, but studies, for the long term, must be a priority. As we all know becoming a professional footballer for a top club is a demanding and an uncertain path, so it is important for James to have choices. A sound academic CV, in addition to his football achievements, will enable such choice. 

If we did not have the support of the School to facilitate homework flexibility, and full access to the School’s new gym, it would be considerably more difficult for James. We thank King Edward’s for supporting and ensuring James maintains this work–sport balance.  Chelsea, Norwich and Reading FC have all made approaches for James, but Portsmouth FC was the best fit logistically for the School and the travel to training and matches around southern England up to four times a week.”

Gary Haylock, ex professional footballer and Head of Football at King Edward’s School, said, “We are thrilled for James and look forward to watching him continue to grow as he represents Portsmouth FC combined U15 and 16’s team. At King Edward’s, James is part of the Elite Sports Programme which links with Surrey Human Resource Performance Institute. The ongoing assessment, using sophisticated performance measurements, adds value to physical strength and conditioning, and mental development.  James is a great asset to our football teams, and an able sportsman across the School’s sporting curriculum. We wish James much success. He is an inspiration to his fellow pupils. 

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