As a back-to-back EFL CEFA National Cup champion who is approaching graduation from the Macclesfield FC BTEC programme, we take a look back over a successful two years for Basit Yusuf.
Yusuf’s journey began when he was in Year 11 and he retains fond recollections of discovering the Macclesfield FC BTEC programme –
“A few of my friends had come across the BTEC Programme on social media and were talking about the trial events at school.
“I heard what they had to say, looked into it, and decided that it was too good an opportunity to let pass me by.
“I headed over to my first trial event and never looked back.”
Despite a trial process interrupted by lockdown, Basit was acutely aware just how high the expected standards were for players joining the course.
“It started as just playing lots of trial games as a group. The standard of football was very strong and it was clear that to be selected, you had to be at your best.
“Just as things were kicking on, we went back into lockdown, so the close contact side was put on hold.
“The Club were fantastic though and ensured that we still had plenty to do.
“The coaches came out to local parks and did fitness drills with us to make sure everyone remained sharp.”
Following a successful trial period, Yusuf was impressed by how simple the signing-up process proved to be.
“Once the Club contacted me to let me know that I’d been selected for the Academy, it was as simple as filling out the agreement letter and getting it back to the Club on time.”
Having signed up, Yusuf’s mind then turned to how he would make his way from his hometown of Moston in North Manchester to Macclesfield each day.
“Travelling in from Manchester every day is something that I know might put people off, but the College staff and everyone at the Club were on hand to give me advice on the best way to get in.
“I found out about the £10 Our Pass that means you can get on all the busses around Manchester and it lasts for two years.
“Then there are different railcard options that get you a big discount on train fares, and the College has plenty of bursary options for students who are struggling financially – so that no matter what, there’s always a way to get in.”
Officially a Silkman, Yusuf immediately impressed boss Paul McGuire – to the point where the young midfielder was called up to the “A” Team for the Covid-delayed EFL CEFA National Cup Final at St Georges Park.
“It was a huge personal achievement for me even to be selected, given that I was one of the newest players.
“It was such an intense game in an incredible setting, and winning the cup during one of my first games for Macclesfield was brilliant.
“Playing at St Georges Park was a great experience, and there was no better way to start my career with Macclesfield than winning a national trophy at England’s training ground.”
As well as success on the pitch, Basit has been taking full advantage of the excellent education provision that Macclesfield College provides players through the course.
“The educational side has been brilliant.
“The tutors at Macclesfield College have been so helpful in ensuring that we’ve kept on track with our BTEC – even with all the football we’ve played, which has been great!
“There’s a real sense that the tutors want you to do your best in order to set yourself up for the future.
“Everyone is so focused – both on and off the pitch and if there’s something you’re struggling with, you’ll always be able to find someone to help. Whether that be one of the tutors, coaches or students – we’re all pulling in the same direction.
As his time at the Macclesfield FC BTEC Academy comes towards its end, Basit is now looking to the future, and with help from the College, tutors is thinking about what his next step is going to be.
“I’m not sure what I want to do next. There are so many pathways available thanks to the course – it’s just about choosing which one is going to be the best for me.
“I’m grateful for the College staff who have been on hand to advise me on what opportunities are available. I’m definitely tempted by University, but with the HNC course at the College also on the table, it’s a tough decision to make.
“They haven’t put pressure on me to decide one way or another as to what I should do next – but they have just helped explain the pros and cons of different options to help me decide.
“For the time being, I’m just staying 100% focused on completing the course and then we’ll see where I go from there.”
Alongside looking forward to his next challenge off the pitch, Yusuf is also eyeing up his footballing progression as well. With a genuine can-do attitude and self-belief, Basit knows just how far he wants to go.
“I feel as though I have the ability and work ethic to go all the way. I want to climb as high up the footballing pyramid as possible – all the way to being a professional or as close as I can get to that.
“It’s a crazy world football, but I’ve always believed that it’s more mind over matter; I know I have the potential to really do something special. Having experienced the full-time football life with the course here, it’s something I’m determined to work hard on and hopefully turn into a career.”
Reflecting on his time within the course, Basit has few regrets and encourages anyone who is thinking about joining the course to seize the opportunity with both hands.
“If I had one piece of advice, it would be just do it. There’s such an amazing team here to look after and nurture you both on and off the pitch; it really is an unbelievable experience.
“You have to trust the process and understand that both the footballing and educational staff have done this time and time again. They want the best for you, and if you give it your all, they’ll take you to exactly where you should be.”
With national success already secured, Yusuf was a part of two more National Cup Finals, completing back-to-back final wins before narrowly losing out to Chelsea in this season’s showpiece.
“To win the second final was a dream come true. A massive amount of hard work went into the campaign, and we deserved the win.
“It was a shame we couldn’t make it three in a row, but again, just getting to the final this season was a major achievement, and we’re all very proud of the effort we put in.
“The standard is so high that unless you’re playing at the top of your game, you’ll be punished, so the fact that we’ve made every CEFA National Final since the course began shows just how good the quality is here at Macclesfield FC.”
As well as team success with Macclesfield FC, Basit’s performances for The Silkmen also earned him a call up to the National Youth Football League All-Star squad, something the midfielder recognises is a great honour.
“I was very proud to be invited to the trials -amongst so many great players. It’s a really impressive league, so to be recognised in that way was extremely gratifying.
“Playing at the ground like Loftus Road, it’s quite unbelievable. Very few people get the opportunity to play at a Championship stadium, so I’m very grateful.
“Being joined by Fuad as well just goes to show how strong our Macclesfield team is, and it’s a real credit to Paul and the staff as well. We’ve put in a lot of hard work, and without their guidance, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
With such a highly rated player amongst the Macclesfield FC ranks, it came as no shock to see Basit called up to the Silkmen’s FA Youth Cup squad.
“I was thrilled to be given the chance to represent Macclesfield in such a prestigious competition. It was never going to be easy going into a squad that had been together a while, but I took it in my stride and feel like I had a decent game.
“It shows the progression pathway that Macclesfield FC has here. If you’re willing to put in the hard work and have the skills to back up that hard work, there are loads of opportunities at the Club.”