QUEENS Park Rangers and Eton College have this month launched a partnership which is designed to benefit the club’s academy players as well as current and future Etonians.
The idea was proposed by Vice Chairman Ruben Gnanalingam, an Old Etonian, and the aim is to create a long-standing relationship between the two parties.
For QPR it means our academy gaining valuable knowledge from educational workshops away from the pitch, gaining access to guest speakers from different varying fields and socially interacting with those who are perhaps looking to explore a different career path.
QPR will provide Eton College with specific football and fitness coaching, an opportunity for their students to test themselves against a higher standard of a footballer and give them an insight into life as a professional player.
The partnership saw QPR Under-18’s playing Eton’s First Team on Tuesday before a tour of the school which was followed by a dinner in Election Hall in the heart of Eton’s 15th-century Foundation Buildings.
The football consisted of three short fixtures with QPR and Eton’s players mixing up to play against one another.
QPR’s Academy Head of Education Robert Nicoll explained how he felt the young R’s could benefit from meeting students from a school that is known for its excellence in education.
“We want the QPR player to be one of unique style in their playing ability but also in terms of the kind of person they are,” Nicoll said. “We want decent human beings coming through the club who are well rounded and well-mannered.
“Our players will get an education on life skills, which is a big part of our Under-18s programme, and we can attend events at the school where they have access to incredible guest speakers and that will be a fantastic benefit to our players.
From an academic point of view, Eton can offer additional opportunities and raise aspirations for some of our under-18s. Obviously we are in close proximity to each other so hopefully, we can create and build a special relationship.”
Simon Henderson, who has been Headmaster at Eton for three years and also happens to be a life-long QPR fan, believes the partnership can help bring the best out of everyone involved.
“In some ways, both sets of boys come from different backgrounds and have probably had different experiences. We ultimately think they are teenage boys mad about football and we hope this will benefit both parties,” he said.
“We essentially have a group of talented young men from different fields that are all hoping to achieve a high level in life. We are hoping this is the start of an ongoing relationship and are excited about where this might go.”
Oscar Guy, who captains the Eton First XI, added: “Obviously for us we are just always at school so none of us gets exposure to anything other than private school teams, so it’s really cool seeing the standard of pro teams at our age and sets the standard that we can aspire to get to.
“More and more often people from our school go over to America for scholarships and I’m trying to get a football scholarship to continue my football career. Over there they do recruit quite a lot of academy footballers so having a partnership with QPR can help us develop to the next level.”