Jamie Vardy launches academy to find the rough diamonds in non-league football
Jamie Vardy is launching a new academy to find the next stars of non-league football.
The in-form Leicester striker is setting up the V9 Academy with the aim of discovering hidden talent in non league and to stop players drifting away from the professional game.
Vardy is now an England international and the Barclays Premier League's 13-goal top scorer since becoming non-league football's first £1million player when he joined the Foxes from Fleetwood in 2012.
The 28-year-old will also break the Premier League's consecutive scoring record if he nets in his 11th straight game against Manchester United on Saturday with Leicester top of the table.
And now former Stocksbridge Park Steels and Halifax forward Vardy wants to help others achieve their dream after his remarkable rise.
"I know there are players out there in a similar position to where I was that just need an opportunity," he said.
"More and more players are dropping out of the system early. For me, it was at Sheffield Wednesday when I was 16 because they thought I was too small. I remember how that felt and it's difficult to come back from or even think about the professional game.
"I've thought for some time that something could be done about it and after several conversations with my agent and my fiancee, Becky, we decided to set up V9 to unearth talent and give those players a shot - hopefully at earning professional contracts but also to learn what it takes to be a professional at the highest level."
Applications for the first intake will be taken in May 2016 and, after a selection process, 60 non-league players will be given the chance on a week-long course in summer 2017.
V9 will allow the players to work like a professional with training by coaches who currently work or have worked in the Football League and Premier League.
Players will be evaluated technically, tactically, mentally and physically and be educated in key areas such as nutrition, social behaviour and sports psychology.
They will then be provided with individual development plans and s couts from clubs will also be invited to watch training and games.
"For the players that show the aptitude to play in the Football League, we will work closely with them to make sure they are placed in the best football environment to go and fulfil their potential," added John Morris, Vardy's long-time agent at Key Sports Management.
"We believe there are many more Jamie Vardys out there. The V9 Academy aims to find them."
:: Any player in non-league football can apply to attend via the website www.V9Academy.co.uk