Everyone’s A Winner As Young Blues Enjoy First Cars

25 July 2006

At the start of the last Championship football season, goalkeeper Shane Supple was one of six Ipswich Town Academy youngsters to be given a new Toyota Yaris on passing his driving test. The move was part of an innovative sponsorship deal masterminded by Blues fans Ipswich Toyota.

The idea was that six senior Academy apprentices, or scholars as they are now known, would be able to get themselves to and from regular training sessions easily.

After a successful 2005/6 the idea is now being continued into the new season – and as Shane Supple has since become Town’s first-choice goalie, a younger hopeful will be eligible to run one of the 1.0 litre petrol Yaris T3 hatchbacks.

Simon Milton, who played more than 300 games in midfield for Ipswich between 1987 and 1998, is now Academy Sponsorship Manager at Portman Road. “We give the cars to the lads we feel are mature enough to look after them properly,” he says, “but we also make them responsible for bringing the other young players living in their area to the training ground.”

Ipswich Town formerly had to employ a minibus driver to pick up the 20 or so scholars from their various homes in the morning, take them to college in the afternoon and home in the evening. “This scheme has worked really well in freeing up our time,” says Simon Milton.

The signs on the doors of the cars read: ‘Ipswich Town Academy sponsored by Ipswich Toyota’ – “so the lads know that if they ever drove badly we’d soon hear about it!” he adds.

Ipswich Toyota supplies and maintains the Yaris hatchbacks and the young drivers have to contribute only to the cost of insurance. “We inspect the cars once a month to see that the boys are keeping them clean and tidy, but they’re very good with them. They’re lovely little cars and the boys think they’re fantastic.”

The Ipswich Town Academy, started in 1998, has an enviable record by any standards. The club recruits more than half of its main squad from Academy graduates – and international players who have come up through its ranks include Keiron Dyer, Darren Bent, Richard Wright, Titus Bramble, Darren Ambrose, James Scowcroft and Matt Richards.

With its own training centres and pitches, the Academy co-ordinates the activities of 120 schoolboys as well as its 16-18-year-old scholars. “Sponsorship of football teams has moved on with this Toyota scheme, because the players at a lower level are the ones who really need the cars,” says Simon Milton. “From our point of view it’s been fantastic, and we’re indebted to Toyota for its support.”


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Everyone’s A Winner As Young Blues Enjoy First Cars


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