From 25-28 May, 15 academy players from CONEL’s men’s football team went undefeated on their annual end-of-year football tour to Catalonia in north-eastern Spain. CONEL were invited by the prestigious Academia de Futbol de Catalunya and played in two showcase games in front of scouts from La Liga clubs Barcelona and Espanyol.

The group had an action packed four day trip. Arriving on Saturday 25, the group settled into their hotel rooms before eating dinner together and watching the Copa del Rey final, Spain’s equivalent to England’s FA Cup.

On the Sunday morning the team faced their first opponents, Club Deportivo La Floresta, Tarragona’s leading football school and community club – which recently signed a collaboration agreement with Spanish La Liga side Villarreal. The game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.

On Monday morning the squad trained at the Academia De Futbol de Catalunya and in the afternoon they played their second match vs triallists from the Academia, which also ended in a one-all draw. The Academia De Futbol de Catalunya has a range of excellent training and match pitches, and provides a ‘gateway’ to Spanish football, right from youth football and schools teams seeking tours or tournaments, to elite players who are looking for assistance breaking into the professional ranks in Spain.

Coach Josemar Santos said, “It was an amazing trip! The boys conducted themselves like true professionals. This was a great team building exercise, which will help us going into next season’s fixtures and may be the only opportunity that some of our students will have to play abroad.”

Student Romans Andrejevs, who played centre back on the tour, joined CONEL’s Charlton Athletic Football Club Development Squad in 2017. Romans said: “Josemar has helped me understand the game better. CONEL has outstanding facilities, the teachers are excellent and I’d fully recommend anyone looking for a career in sport to come here.”

Earlier this year, Romans signed with top Portuguese club Maritimo and will be joining them in the future. Meanwhile he is continuing his studies at CONEL and is excelling in his Sports Diploma.

CONEL’s award-winning plumbing tutor, Paul Oatham, has worked at the college since October 2016. Paul has started using videos as a new and exciting way to teach and engage his students. This not only helps students revise before exams but offers the opportunity to re-watch classes they may have missed or not fully understood.

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There are massive misconceptions and stigmas that surround the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Here at The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, we challenge these by having an MMA Academy which installs discipline and respect within our students.

Alay Asghar has been in the world of MMA for 11 years, working at CONEL for the last three of those as Head Coach of the MMA Academy.

From competitor to coach, Alay has learnt a lot during his time in the sport. He said: “MMA is a sport which in my opinion instils discipline and character into the individuals who participate. There is a big misconception that MMA is all about promoting violence and fighting however in practice it is actually a great way to help the students channel their aggression within a controlled environment.

“MMA has many disciplines that have a deep-rooted history. Many of these have their own traditions dated hundreds of years based around respect for themselves, their opponent and life in general. I introduce and implement these ideologies amongst my students straight away which I hope will benefit them not only in the classroom but also in the outside world. These traditions consist of bowing, shaking hands and respecting the authority of the coaches and teachers.

“As well as these life skills, MMA is a great form of exercise for people of all abilities and backgrounds offering a unique path to bettering themselves physically and mentally.”

Brandon Wilkins is one of Alay’s top students. During his time at CONEL Brandon has won:

  • Wikf European championship open weight 16-17 years. 
  • Basel open 16-17 years +68kg 
  • English champion 16-17 years -68kg 
  • British champion 16-17 years -68kg 2017 & 2018
  • Central England champion 2017 and 2018 x2 16-17 years -68kg and open weight

Alongside the MMA Academy, Brandon studies Sports Fitness and Coaching which he hopes will assist him in pursuing a career in Karate. 

Brandon Said, “My training has to be very specific for Karate so I mainly focus on that at my own club but the college has helped me build up my fitness in the gym with the equipment that is there.”

On 3 April, three Business Level 3 students from the Career Ready Programme visited the Suited & Booted charity, based near Liverpool Street Station. 

Suited & Booted supply formal clothes and accessories to men who require support selecting appropriate wear for job interviews and City employment.

Students David Agunwah, Ritik Vibhani and Michael Raul Cabana Sotelo were accompanied by Anne-Marie Melbourne, CONEL’s Employer Engagement officer. Two store assistants then helped kit out the students with individually tailored outfits ahead of upcoming work experience.

David, Michael and Ritik were all very happy with their suits and said they really enjoyed their appointments.  The three are expecting summer internships in the coming months, and reportedly enjoyed the opportunity to get a taste for professional life in the big city. David will be based at Citi Bank in Canary Wharf for his internship, while Ritik and Michael will be based at PA Consultancy Group in Victoria.

David said: “I joined the Career Ready programme to gain work experience. It is a flexible programme, so that helps with my studying. I really liked getting my free suit, which will help me when I start my internship at Citi Bank in July.”

Anne-Marie SaidL “This was our first time at Suited and Booted as a college. My manager gave me a flyer for the company and when I contacted them the founder of the charity invited us down. It was easy to get to and the students were really excited. Before we went we filled out forms which meant when we arrived, they were ready with suits the right size for our students. They all tried on two suits and they were really happy with what they came away with, one of the students with an Armani suit. They even got bags for their work. When leaving they were also given money to take up the hems of their trousers and told where they can get free haircuts. It was a great experience.”

For more information on the Career Ready programme or to be part of the next cohort please contact Betty Benjamin on

Since February, CONEL has been running a Women into Transportation and Engineering (WiTnE) programme, in partnership with TFL in support of the international ‘Women Into STEM’ movement.

According to the National College for High-Speed Rail, women account for just 9% of the UK’s engineering workforce and only 4% of rail engineers, so there is a clear need to encourage more women into the sector.

The WiTnE programme was organised alongside blue-chip railway and engineering companies Siemens, Arriva Rail, Thales, Telent and Morson Group and is providing women with invaluable opportunities in the industry. 43 women came to our initial information session day; 22 of whom started and successfully completed a two-week employability programme to give them the skills they need to prepare for work. Being on the course gave each learner a guaranteed work placement with a nominated employer, relevant to their sector of interest. 

All learners who attended their work placements have been guaranteed interviews with their employers should they want full-time work at a later date. The event was widely regarded as a success by students and employers alike. Two learners from the cohort were even fast-tracked to the second round of interviews in their applications with Arriva Rail. And Arriva Rail was so impressed by their CONEL students that they are in discussions with CCCT, our Apprenticeship training arm, to recruit six new apprentices.

Nicola Sophia from Transport for London (TfL) said: “I would like to congratulate CONEL and all of the partners for the successful delivery of the WiTnE pre-employment programme. The candidates were all very pleased with their work placements.

“The candidates completed the programme with a greater appreciation of the transportation and engineering sectors, and the opportunities that wait for all our students, regardless of gender.”

We plan to run a similar themed programme 2-3 times a year with TfL, with the next one focusing on helping more people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds get jobs in the transportation industry.

With women so underrepresented in construction and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) roles generally, CONEL has made the recruiting of women to our courses a priority. Our free short courses, in particular, have proved to be a very accessible way for women to get into these subjects.  And with specialist free “Women into…” courses in carpentry & joinery, brickwork, and painting & decorating still enrolling for available for May and June, there are more opportunities for women to start their careers by learning with CONEL.