THE UK’s first joint girls’ and boys’ football academy is forming as a college and a football club join forces.

Plumpton College has teamed up with Lewes Football Club to offer students the opportunity to further their academic and footballing abilities.

Students will be trained in two groups at the club as “boys and girls require different approaches” but will have joint lessons at the college.

The collaboration links to Lewes FC’s Equality FC campaign, which aims to achieve equal pay for men and women playing the sport.

Lewes FC are the only football club in the world where male and female footballers have equal facilities, equal playing budgets and play at the

same stadium.

Lewes FC Women player and sport programming manager at Plumpton College Shannon Moloney said: “For me, it’s exciting to be part of a club and college who are enabling aspiring young players to succeed.

“When I was younger there were no girls’ teams, so I often played in boys teams until age 11 when I joined

Arsenal Centre of Excellence.

“Working at Plumpton allows me to share my passion with the next generation and develop young

people’s skills both on and off the pitch.

“Both Lewes FC and Plumpton are paving the way for future clubs and colleges to offer programmes where girls and boys train and study together, learn from and encourage each other to be the best players and ambassadors of sport they can be.”

The academy’s founders described it as “a collaborative men’s and women’s football curriculum to meet the needs of aspiring professional players, offering two distinct pathways as destinations”.

For women, this is through the FA Women’s Championship, and for men it is via the Isthmian Premier League.

The Lewes FC training grounds are a ten-minute drive from the Plumpton College campus.

Students will study A-level or BTEC courses at the college then take part in three specialist training sessions and a competitive match each week.

They will be trained by Lewes FC Women manager Fran Alonso, who has been among the coaching staff of managers such as Ronald Koeman, Mauricio Pochettino and Sam Allardyce.