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Great News: As Port Vale former captain have raised £20,000 to help get kids into sport at their first charity ball

Pro Level Academy Tom Conlon, Nick Ridgway and Nathan SmithPro Level Academy

Tom Conlon, Nick Ridgway and Nathan Smith are the head coaches at Pro Level Academy

Port Vale captain Nathan Smith and former captain Tom Conlon have raised £20,000 at their first charity ball.

The pair said they would use the money from Saturday’s event to offer disadvantaged youngsters professional coaching.

They set up the charity arm of their coaching academy business as part of an ambition to open up professional coaching to everyone, regardless of background.

Pro Level Academy launched in 2021 but soon began providing some classes free of charge for children with disabilities, learning difficulties or those in care.

Mr Conlon said: “We started realising – what if you can’t afford this? What if you can’t get to training if you’re looking after your parents or your siblings?

“Anyone that’s disadvantaged or vulnerable – what if they can’t make [it to] training? We thought: ‘why don’t we go down the charity route?’”

He said he was grateful for the support shown for the business and its charity arm in the short space of time since they launched.

“We turn up to training at times and you’ve got a load of smiling faces there – not just Vale fans but Stoke fans, just local lads and girls that just love coming to train with us, and that is so rewarding,” he said.

Now the charity arm has been given official status, it will be raising money to support youngsters who might not otherwise be able to participate.

Mr Conlon believes the benefits of the scheme stretch beyond the football pitch.

“It’s not just them coming through the scheme and thinking they can improve in football, it’s more than that,” he said.

“You learn so much in football – the stuff you take from it and the resilience you gain helps you out off the field.”

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