A TALENTED young footballer whose dreams on the pitch are balanced by a promising accountancy career is set to be one of the stars of a new Sky TV show.
Rio May, from Acklam, Middlesbrough, will join the Jamie Vardy Academy in June – a programme to showcase promising amateur footballers.
He joins 42 other hopefuls who will be followed by a Sky camera crew as they take part in the one-week residential programme which aims to showcase non-league talent and get them professional signings.
But 20-year-old Rio is not putting all his eggs in one basket, and is pursuing AAT accountancy qualifications at Middlesbrough College.
He said: “It’s my dream to be a professional footballer, and the opportunity with the Jamie Vardy Academy is a really good chance for me.
“At the same time I’ve always taken studying very seriously. To be honest, I’d never envisaged being an accountant, I always thought I’d become a PE teacher, but I’ve really found my feet with accountancy.
“Throughout school I was strong in maths and IT and this career is a combination of those two things.”
The centre back has played since he was 6 – first for junior team Whinney Banks and later finding success with Middlesbrough Academy from the age of 15.
He subsequently played for Guisborough Town, Billingham Synthonia and most recently signed for Whitby Town in summer 2016.
Now he will travel to Manchester City’s training ground for the programme, which will put participants in front of scouts from all over the world.
The Sky TV show will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how coaching and selection is carried out at the top level of the sport.
And the savvy youngster can look forward to two routes open to him – having recently finished an apprenticeship with Conyers School in Yarm as a finance clerk and completed a Level 3 Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification.
He added: “It’s important to me to keep my studies going – so if the football takes off I’ll make sure I continue it alongside.
“Having some experience under my belt I’m ready for the next challenge, and I’d love to get to grips with a role in an accounting practice.”
Zoe Lewis, Principal and Chief Executive at Middlesbrough College, said: “Rio has shown he is as talented in the classroom as on the pitch, and he’s making the best of his strengths.
“All of us at Middlesbrough College wish him luck in his time at the Academy, and we know whichever career path he follows, he’ll be highly successful.”