Why choose DESA

Taking inspiration from our knowledge and experience of working with national and international football clubs, we have created an environment that rivals and exceeds professional standards.

DESA boasts a brand new, built-for-purpose learning environment that is situated at Aldiss Park, the home of Dereham Town Football Club. Taking inspiration from our knowledge and experience of working with national and international football clubs, we have created an environment that rivals and exceeds professional standards.

On-site classrooms overlook the stadia pitch providing high speed wifi, motivational decor and modern technology. There is a study room that provides everything you need to be successful – computers and printing facilities, allowing you to focus on study between training sessions and lessons, relaxed seating and state of the art technology for performance analysis. You will have the opportunity to demonstrate your talent on the Dereham Town First Team main pitch which provides one of the best playing surfaces in the region.

A groundsman maintains the pitch on a daily basis to fulfil the high standards that we set. When training, you have access to changing rooms with shower facilities as well as a multi-purpose grass training area on which you can develop your football skills.

Our Training & Fitness Programme

You will receive football training three times a week at Aldiss Park for two hours per session with UEFA qualified staff. You will follow a structured annual training programme that has been designed to improve your technical ability, tactical understanding and athleticism. The new design of our training area, including grids, circles, zones and pitches, allows us to offer a unique environment in which you can learn and develop.

Athletic development is of great importance to us. Therefore, we have linked with Dereham Leisure Centre and Barrett’s Fitness to enable you to have access to the gym, sports hall, studio and swimming pool sessions. You will also be able to train with a strength and conditioning coach who delivers fitness sessions to the group as well as constructing individual, personalised programmes, giving you the best chance to reach your athletic potential. For any players suffering from or returning back from injury we provide a sports rehabilitation professional to help them return to full fitness.

Gym sessions take place at Barrett’s Health and Fitness on a Monday and Futsal/Studio/S&C/Swimming sessions take place at Dereham Leisure Centre on a Thursday.

Our Fixture Programme

You must sign for Dereham Town U18s when on our course and you will be able to play in a number of squads during your time with us including:

DESA U19s Elite Squad: the team plat in the ECFA U19 Premier Division against teams such as AFC Sudbury, EDSV and USP Storm. We were crowned ECFA regional champions in 2020, our second championship title since 2016. All fixtures take place on a Wednesday afternoon with all home games played on the first team pitch at Dereham Town Football Club. The squad also participates in the ECFA U19 National Trophy, a competition in which reached the final in 2016. Mini bus transport is provided for all away fixtures.

DESA U19S Development Squad: our U19 Development Squad play in the AoC U19 Invitational East Division against teams such as Open Academy (Wroxham FC), The F2 Academy & Impington Village (Histon FC). This squad is also entered into the ECFA U19 National Trophy. All fixtures take place on a Wednesday afternoon with all home games played on our training pitches at Dereham Town Football Club. Mini bus transport is provided for all away fixtures.

DESA U18s Squad: the team play in the U18 Junior Premier League against teams such as AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Yaxley and Netherton United. All fixtures take place on a Saturday morning with all home games played on a state of the art 4G pitch at Neatherd High School, or occasionally on the first team pitch at Dereham Town Football Club. Mini bus transport is provided for all away fixtures.

Dereham Town U18s Squad: the team play in the Thurlow Nunn U18 Youth League against teams such as Swaffham Town, Mulbarton Wanderers and Fakenham Town. All home games are played on the first team pitch at Dereham Town Football Club. No mini bus transport is provided for away fixtures.

U18 Cup Squads: you will have access to elite competitions including the FA Youth Cup and the ESFA U18s National Cup. All home fixtures are played on the first team pitch at Dereham Town Football Club.

Our Enrichment Programme

Throughout your two years with us you will take part in a wide variety of different trips aimed at developing a range of personal and professional skills to prepare you for your next steps. Previous trips have included Manchester and Bolton for a Champions League match and fixture with Bolton Wanderers Academy, a trip to Bristol to face Bristol City FC as well as numerous trips to Norwich Schools Sport Partnership events. In your second year at DESA you will have the opportunity to take part in a tour to America where we compete in a youth tournament in Las Vegas and play in friendly matches against teams such as LA Galaxy.

In 2016, while visiting LA Galaxy, we met Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Giovanni Dos Santos. In an unscheduled bonus for the group, Steven Gerrard asked us to stay and take part in a coaching session to help him practice for his UEFA A coaching licence. He even took the time to record a video message thanking the group.

Our Staff

Tom Parke: Tom began his DESA career after seven years’ experience teaching BTECs and delivering football coaching as a lecturer and coach at Easton & Otley College. He is the co-founder, Director of Football and Head Coach at Personal Best Soccer, a successful soccer school for 13-16 year-olds in Norwich. He has vast experience in coaching and managing youth players, including co-leading the British College’s Eastern Regional select squad and managing the Norfolk U18s to back-to-back East Anglian championships between 2008 and 2010. He has had experience of Academy and Centre of Excellence football as both a player and a coach and is part of the coaching team at Peterborough Utd U16s Academy. Tom returned to Aldiss Park on a full-time basis after a successful campaign as Dereham Town U18s Manager in the 2011-12 season, guiding the young Magpies to a Thurlow Nunn League and Cup double, as well as having an outstanding run in the FA Youth Cup. He has also co-Managed Easton College’s Futsal squads in two British College’s National Championship wins and four regional titles. Since being at DESA the squad have reached the ECFA National Cup Final, won the ECFA Category 1 National East Division on two occasions in 2016 and 2020 as well as the 2015 ECFA National Futsal Championship. Tom has completed his UEFA A License qualification in Northern Ireland.

Lee Perry: After seven successful years as a BTEC course tutor and Academy coach at Easton College, Lee moved to DESA to start his role as Academy Manager in 2013. He has over ten years of experience in the fitness and football industry including being part of the management team that led the Norfolk U18s to back-to-back East Anglian championships. He has also co-led the British Colleges Eastern Region representative squad as well as managed the Easton College Women’s Futsal squad to success in one national and two regional titles. Lee is a UEFA B licensed coach who holds his UEFA A prep course and is working towards his full A license. Lee also specialises in fitness, strength and conditioning and is a qualified instructor and assessor. Lee plays an integral role within the organisation and running of the highly successful Personal Best Soccer scheme based in Norwich. He returned to Aldiss Park on a full-time basis after a successful campaign as part of the Dereham Town U18s management team in the 2011-12 season, coaching the team to regional success. Lee has played a vital role in organising all trips and tours and works extremely hard to ensure that all learners are successful beyond DESA.

James Suffling: James began his DESA career after fourteen years’ experience teaching BTECs and delivering football coaching as a lecturer and coach at New College Stamford and Easton College. He is the CEO, Academy Director and Trustee at Personal Best Soccer, a successful soccer school for 13-16 year-olds in Norwich. He has vast experience in teaching and coaching being recognised as an OFSTED Grade 1 Lecturer on numerous occasions at Norwich City Football Club, New College Stamford and Easton College. He completed his UEFA B in Northern Ireland and won the British School of Colleges league with both DESA and New College Stamford. James believes in bespoke, personalised learning using a diverse range of teaching and assessments to engage learners. James brings a wealth of experience and knowledge and is an integral part in both the education and coaching at DESA.

Our Students & Parents Think You Should!

“Attending the DESA program was the best decision I have made with my football. The coaches helped me with so many challenges I had in the classroom, training ground and on the pitch. I was fortunate to have made great friends for life through DESA. The learning environment is one I can’t compare to any other because it helped me become a leader on and off the pitch and also helped me focus on the right path with achieving my goals.”

“Getting released from Norwich as a youngster was one of the hardest things a young footballer like myself would ever have to experience. DESA took me in and allowed me to fully express myself whether that be in training or in games. It’s fair to say that being at DESA brought back my love for football. One of the things I always noticed about DESA was the care which the coaches have for the students. They want to see you succeed and go on to do great things and they provide great platforms for players to go on and do so.”

“Choosing to study at DESA was a great decision. It provided me with the qualifications and experience I needed to progress to university. Alongside my studies I was able to develop my football career through knowledgeable and experienced coaches, and made life-long friends and memories.”

“My son is loving DESA. He is coping well with the workload and really progressing in his football. I feel DESA has been well organised and the staff are thoughtful in putting each boy’s welfare first.”

“My son attained a top qualification at the highest standard. He received support when he needed it and from a results perspective it is a ‘job well done’. In addition to that he had a great group with him, good team spirit and he had a great time.”

“Provides a platform to excel both academically and athletically, whilst creating memories and bonds with peers and staff that will last a lifetime.”

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