Aspiring sports stars get a taste of student-athlete life in Orlando

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A group of Derbyshire teens have recently tasted life as student-athletes at higher education facilities in the USA.

Just shy of 50 budding athletes took the eight-day trip to Orlando, Florida, with local organisation Starbridge Sports.

Starbridge offer aspiring sportspeople the opportunity to realise their dreams of securing scholarships across the pond.

The firm specialises in elite athlete development and has helped around 30 people find scholarships over the past five years.

Starbridge’s academic sporting director Marc Rawson explained the benefits for young people taking up this opportunity.

He said: “They get to see universities and experience what it’s like to be a student athlete.

“After that, a lot of them will say that’s what I want to do, or they say it’s not for me.

“Either way they get a great experience to help them make an informed decision about their future.”

While in Orlando a series of matches against various schools were organised for athletes to showcase their talents.

“It’s an experience,” said Rawson. “We want them to have the chance to see if it’s right for them - these trips offer that.

“It’s open to boys and girls aged 15-18 to see if they like not just playing over there but also studying and living.

“We’ve found that a lot of people still don’t realise scholarship opportunities are out there for them.

“A lot of people think that because they haven’t made it at a club in England that the States is not an option for them, but it is.

“It’s just finding them the right place to study in America and play their sport.”

Rawson, a PE teacher, has first hand experience of the American university system alongside his business partner Brett Jones.

“It’s a great opportunity but it’s only right for certain people and that’s the whole idea of the tour - for them to decide whether studying over there is for them,” he added.

Starbridge Sports has taken groups of up to 60 at a time to Oklahoma, New York, Miami and Orlando over the past five years.

They are looking to return to Miami next year. All those interested can email marc.rawson@starbridgesports.com.