November 28, 2016 Wayne Richardson

Football Academies and Education, a good mix?

A rare night off I had to watch my eldest daughter graduate from primary school at the end of the summer. Afterwards Driving back to Yorkshire on my favourite M62 motorway I receive a call from a parent thanking me for the work which we have done behind the scenes with his son and how I changed his outlook on not just being a Footballer but being an Athlete and a young man.

This client I have been working with for around two years, he came to Richardson sport when we were based at the Etihad Campus (so about 2014/5), a referral from Another client. He told me his club were due to give him the answer within the next week about the potential of the offering of a scholarship placement, but he needed to work on a couple of key areas which was strength/ power / speed. Technically he is a fantastic footballer this was mentioned in the player's parents evening.

His dad asked the club ‘do we get any help and guidance with the points that you have raised’? The clubs reply was ‘we will monitor the situation, help and give him a program from our Sports Science Department’. Around a month later he was released, another foreign player (strong powerful and very Athletic) had come to the club to replace him. When the club called my client in for a meeting they told his dad that his son didn't fit the profile of the type of player that the new management wanted and hadn't grown as much as they thought he would. He was not Strong or Agile enough. The Head of the Academy, Head of Education, and the Head of Operations all told the player and dad the news.

The main issue wasn't just Football related, it was also the player’s education. The Head of Education at the club advised him he had to leave the school he was based at organised and paid for by the club (this was thought to be a cost-cutting exercise, as this wasn’t what was agreed when he joined). His dad went to the FA and the Premier league regarding this issue. Whilst waiting to resolve this matter the player had to wait two months to re-start his education back at the school he knew and loved, during this time all school work was sent to his home for him to complete with no support from club or School.

So, are we failing our aspiring talent? The statics don't lie nearly seven hundred Academy players were released last season one percent made the cut. So how many other pupils of academies experience such upheaval and potential damage to their education? And what can be done to stop it? I guess not much, but I would think twice before putting my child into a school paid for by a football club and recommend exploring what will happen if the club decides to walk away from the agreement and how will that change be managed.

Richardson Sport is here for all things football, even if that's just someone to listen.

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