Former Nottingham Forest stars believe a new sports qualification available at Newark’s Magnus Church of England Academy will be a huge opportunity for young people.
A taster session was held on Monday to promote the two-year BTEC level-three extended diploma in sport, which will start in September for sixth-form students.
The programme, run in conjunction with sports development company You Can Do Sport, will include football or rugby coaching sessions.
Magnus will deliver the theoretical side of the course, which will account for 50% of students’ time, with the other half being spent on the pitch.
Football sessions will be on new pitches at the YMCA sports and community village.
Former Forest stars Ian McParland, known as Charlie, Andy Reid and Gary Charles, who have signed up to lead football coaching, attended the taster session to give pupils a flavour of what they could expect.
They will be joined in September by former player and manager Paul Hart as consultant coach.
McParland, who will be head coach, said the main aim was bringing out the enjoyment of learning the game.
"It’s a great thing for young boys and girls to get a football education and an academic education," he said.
"I want it to be fun, but I also want to teach them to be better players — whether they go on to be professional players, you never know.
"The main thing is they enjoy themselves and take something from the football side and the academic side.
"The secret to it is to connect and build a rapport with the players to help them at whatever level they play at."
McParland, who played 221 times for Notts County before joining Forest as caretaker manager, said he wished a course like that had existed when he was growing up.
This is a modern thing," he said.
"When I was growing up there was nothing like this — you were told to get on with your school and then get on with your football.
"I never wanted to go to school, but I was lucky because I could play football instead.
"I wish I had done more at school because I think education is key. Not everyone can be a professional footballer."
McParland made the call to old friends Reid and Charles, who both jumped at the opportunity to join as supporting coaches.
Former Republic of Ireland international Andy Reid, who made 263 appearances for Forest, said the course would help him develop as well.
"At the moment I am Ireland’s under-18s assistant coach as well, which is something I’m enjoying very much," he said.
"I’m starting off in my coaching career. I’m still relatively young in those terms so I really wanting to kick on and become a top coach.
"I want to be a manager one day and being involved here will help and start that off."
"I played under Paul (Hart) and Charlie (McParland) and I was happy to help get this programme going.
"It’s an exciting thing for the students to further themselves."
Charles, who was capped twice by England in 1991, spent the majority of his career at Forest, Derby County and Aston Villa.
"I had a lot of mates who didn’t quite get the scholarship or the opportunity with clubs," he said. "This will give kids that extra chance.
"I’ve been coaching for a long time now — I was director of football at the University of Nottingham and I have been with a few clubs and this is just another chance to help young people.
"The cumulative experience of the lads we have involved will make the experience unbelievable."
To find out more about the course visit www.magnusacademy.co.uk/our-curriculum/you-can-do-sport
Rugby coach Jed Chapple will bring his international coaching experience to the fore when the programme starts in September.
The 23-year-old, of North Scarle, already has an impressive CV, travelling the world to lead clubs in Italy, Canada and Germany.
Newark Rugby Club will deliver the rugby sessions at Magnus, with first-team player Chapple as head coach.
"It will be a fantastic opportunity," he said.
"I know Magnus haven’t done rugby in a long while.
"I want to get across to all the young children that the values you get in rugby are values that will help you in life.
"The core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship won’t steer you far wrong growing up.
"If they can take some of these values away from the programme then it will be beneficial to their life.
Chappell was given the chance to play in Italy, where he also coached under-16 and under-18 players at Valsugana Rugby Club.
"We had a great time there. I learned a lot about myself, and about the game from some very experienced players," he said.
"The team I coached had a great season and we ended up coming third in the whole of Italy."
Chapple has had experience coaching senior players at Canadian side Ottawa Ospreys and youth players at German team Berlin Grizzlies.
Back in England, Chapple has returned to Newark Rugby Club, which has a proud history of developing youth talent.
A number of England Counties under-18s players have come through the junior section while others have moved to professional academies.
"I have been with Newark since I was four," said Chapple.
"They gave me a lot of confidence growing up and I have made some friends for life," Chapple said.
"Now with the new facilities they are going to help more players and more youngsters."