STRATFORD AC athletes George Hendy and Zach McKenzie have been selected to fulfil their potential in other sports at an elite level.
Hendy joins up with England’s under-20 Elite Player Squad in rugby union and could make his debut in the under-20 Six Nations this month.
And McKenzie has been offered a scholarship at Forest Green Rovers who are the runaway leaders in League Two this season.
The duo have both represented Stratford AC with great distinction and dedication over several years and have now been rewarded with a chance to perform at an elite level.
Hendy is currently studying Geography at Loughborough and the 19-year-old hopes to make an impression in England’s 32-man squad.
Hendy said: “I’m very excited to be joining up with the best young rugby players in England and can’t wait to see how much further I can take it.”
And Stratford AC coach Paul Bearman heaped praise on the athletes who he has coach since their primary school days.
Bearman said: “Having been involved with their coaching since their primary school days it has been wonderful watching them emerge from relatively quite shy kids into brilliant mature sportsmen with the world literally at their feet.
“They are both incredibly hard workers and their families can also take enormous credit for the way they have raised and supported their boys, who’s hard work, determination to succeed and dedication have enabled them to get so far.”
Hendy has been with the club since his primary school days at The Croft and excelled at rugby, cricket and athletics.
He played cricket to district level whilst representing Shipston and KES in rugby before joining Worcester Warriors under-16 academy after he was talent spotted.
However, despite being dropped by the Warriors, Hendy trained tirelessly with Stratford before joining Northampton Saints under-16 to under-18 academy.
And Hendy has excelled for Saints, graduating from their Senior Academy last year and making his first-team debut in November playing at full back before scoring in his second match.
Elsewhere, McKenzie is another athlete who has worked his way through the age groups with the club and enhanced his development through training with Stratford.
McKenzie has shown he is a natural athlete since his primary school days Thomas Jolyffe which has taken him to national level with a speciality in triple jump.
And the 16-year-old has been rewarded with a scholarship at Forest Green, based in Stroud, who are odds on favourites for promotion to League One, the third tier of English football.
He will be playing full-time from September and will be undertaking a Sports Excellence Diploma after finishing his A Levels to ensure he has sound qualifications after his football career is finished.
McKenzie will challenge for the Regional and National Athletics Championships for Stratford and will represent the club in the summer before departing for Forest Green.
The United Nations has recognised Forest Green as the world’s first carbon-neutral football club and have been described by FIFA as the ‘greenest team in the world’.
Rovers have introduced sustainability measures such as solar panels, electric car charging points, water recycling, an electric lawnmower, an organic pitch, and an entirely vegan menu for players and fans.