Tag: academy football

“I didn’t really care too much for school because I was always like: ‘I’m gonna be a footballer”

An articulate piece from Elias Burke for the Athletic UK. Here Elias portrays potential difficulties faced by released academy footballers. With input from a former player, Liverpool FC’s head of player care, and ourselves. Here’s a snippet, with a link to the full story below.

Each year, hundreds of young football players are offered a full-time scholarship by a professional club; 85% of these will not receive a professional contract. By the age of 21, many of these players are without a club at any level.

For these young players, it is very likely that football will have been their life for as long as they could remember. Many highly touted prospects are attached to a professional club before they hit double figures, and the status that comes with being an academy player will form an essential part of their identity. Leaving a situation that you have been in for over a decade is hard enough in any circumstance, but when you have given your whole childhood to your dream – for it to end often without notice – the next steps for a young person can be daunting.

Louis Langdown, alongside his business partner Adam Wilde, both 42, founded the Football Family in 2017 with the help of Southampton FC players Jack Stephens and Sam McQueen. The mission of the non-profit organisation is to provide pathways to ensure young, recently released players – who have spent their childhood involved with professional academies – land on their feet after receiving the life-altering news.

Langdown – who is also assistant manager at Weymouth FC in the National League – highlights the worrying signs from scholars at professional clubs that raised his initial concerns.“We had a couple of players who were in their second year of YTS (Youth Training Scheme now better known as a scholarship). We were getting players on loan from pro clubs, Bournemouth, Southampton, Aldershot. We noticed they were energetic and charismatic. Then it would flip, their mood would become less confident, less talkative, less committed perhaps? Their performances would dip on the pitch. That all came around decision time.Louis LangdownLouis Langdown during his time as fitness coach at Crystal Palace (Photo by Olly Greenwood – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

“You’ve got a bit of hope as an 18-year-old. When you go out on loan to non-league teams, there’s hope there that you’re going to get taken on – there’s a need for you to kick on. People are taking notice of your performances, there’s feedback all the time.

“When the decision comes around in March, April time and it’s firmed up that you’re possibly not going to be (continuing the scholarship at a professional club), things change, and then it’s a case of ‘how do we manage this’.”

One of the biggest issues for young players after being associated with academy football for much of their adolescence is the loss of identity. When the existence of a young person has often been predicated on how well they play football, being told they are no longer good enough in the eyes of the coaches who have helped develop a young player into an adult can be utterly devastating.

“They are a little bit lost and devoid of direction,” Langdown comments. “When you consider everything has been done for them up until the age of 18 – they know their itinerary for the day from the moment they wake up – when that’s removed, it becomes very difficult.

“They are in their own headspace and they lose that direction. For me, it’s about finding direction. What can we get that takes some time and challenge them? That’s really the key problem.

“Another thing they say all the time is that they are no longer ‘the footballer’, they no longer belong to something. It’s about finding where they do belong and giving them something different to connect to.”

Please follow the link for the rest of the story….

https://theathletic.com/2683709/2021/07/07/i-didnt-really-care-too-much-for-school-because-i-was-always-like-im-gonna-be-a-footballer/?source=twitterbdnike

Former Newcastle United and England age-group player Adam Campbell, now partner support manager with Life After Professional Sport (LAPS) offers his personal insights.

Adam Campbell, Newcastle

And just as important, you can read how Liverpool FC are tackling after care through Phil Roscoe (Head of Player Care).

Phil Roscoe, head of player care at Liverpool, set up the club’s alumni project (Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Deselection research in partnership with Solent University

Please view our research presentation slides in partnership with Southampton Solent University delivered at the BASES (British Association of Sport & Exercise Sciences) 2021 student conference.

Some excellent findings that football clubs and researchers might find useful from an extensive qualitative investigation of players experiences of deselection at Scholarship stage.

A video recording and the study abstract is to be published by BASES in the near future.

Please share with anyone who may wish to develop this research. Contact louis.langdown@solent.ac.uk for any further questions. Thank You.

Life education- the Southampton way

SFC U18 in action at Staplewood.

“Southampton Football Club, over a period of time became a lot more than just a football club to me, they allowed me to do things I didn’t believe possible, meet incredible people and live my dream. But more importantly I made friendships with people for life, felt cared about and welcomed which as a 14-year old moving away from home is something that overwhelmed me and made my experience better than I could imagine!”

Former Southampton Scholar

In an unusually candid interview Ian Herding speaks with an authority and passion on his duties as Life Education and Performance Officer at Southampton FC. Ian helps to shed light on typical and non typical ways football clubs tackle the ‘unspoken’ issues of player welfare. We are undoubtedly living in times of change when it comes to sharpening the focus on a structured and proactive duty of care for our footballing hopefuls. The sharing of good practice is one major leap forward in what must be a connected and purposeful attack on how we value preventive measures.   

Ian displays an impressive schedule of events for the current playing season. In total facilitating and coordinating 144 targeted ‘life education’ sessions for registered players between 9-23 years. These include crucial guidance in off-field learning outcomes such as; social media awareness, financial planning, car and insurance dealings and other topical ‘house keeping’ administration. This to many would resonate as typical channels of support and expected currency at most Academies, not necessarily out of the ordinary.

So, lets look at the atypical, and the extraordinary

If you asked yourself how many academy footballers have travelled to a foreign country and addressed its Chancellor and visiting Presidents’, your reply I’m guessing would match my own, zero? Except of course those fortunate group of 14 and 15-year old schoolboy players from Southampton FC whom travelled to Germany. Their reason? To take an active role in a World War Commemoration Service. Angela Merkel (German Chancellor) and Emmanuel Macron (French President) among the 1500 strong parliamentary audience, heard the wonderful tribute of World War 1 hero, and talented footballer, Walter Tull, as told by a 15-year old Southampton FC player.

Emmanuel Macron (President of France) and Angela Merkel (Federal Chancellor of Germany)

The service was broadcast live on German TV with figures of 3.5 million viewers. Was it luck that this U15 group happened to include a teenager with the courage and confidence to articulate such a moving tribute to a captive, somewhat daunting, audience? Or can we trace the character building work of Ian and his team to suggest ‘luck’ isn’t responsible.

The players learn about the tragedy of War and the heroics of allied and enemy service men and women. It’s a fascinating insight into the history and politics that clearly galvanise and promote a far wider appreciation of individual courage, leadership and sacrifice for the greater good.

Walter Tull far left pictured in 1914 with British Army comrades.

When I think back on my time as a young player and reminisce about the good old days, stories of those trips together as a team are never far from conversation. I can’t always recall the most basic of information, or retain the most important of facts, but along with my friends we can, and do get lost, in the happy chat of footballing vacations. The club and Ian are firm advocates of the benefits a residential footballing trip can bring.

The conscious effort to ensure at least one foreign excursion per season for all the age groups testifies that resolve. Supported by his colleagues, trips to Italy for example are coupled with Italian lessons and the cooking and eating of the local cuisines. Cue geographic and cultural insights preceding the trip promoting an awareness and understanding of its people and landscape.  And maybe you have a few additional lovers of all things Italian.

Careers day was another ‘life experience’ session that caught the eye. In conjunction with an external partner and part of an annual dedicated series, the U15’s visit Sky Studios. Working in small teams the players are briefed with real world contemporary issues such as teenage obesity. They then research around the subject and prepare to conduct a ‘live broadcast’ of their newly acquired knowledge.

Identifying their own strengths and interests the players decide on what role they would like to occupy; presenter, camera man, sound engineer, director and so on. After some teaching and tutorials from the respective experts the players put together a news reel the like you would see on Sky News. Cutting from the studio to an outside broadcast and back again. This is all filmed and made available to each player recording their achievements. Could this lived exposure to alternative careers maybe spark an interest for the future should professional football not materialise? I believe so.

Captains Corner with First Team skipper Pierre.

Shared experiences and open dialogue seem a constant with Ian. ‘Captains corner’ is a scheduled meeting with the respected captains and vice captains of all age groups from U13’s upwards. A chance for the players to talk informally with the first team captain. A simple but effective opportunity to bring your age group leaders together to gain insight from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Steven Davis before him. This I really like, it provides a team within a team, and draws on experience from respected players throughout the club. Another of the positive learning environments that get ‘buy in’ from all corners of the football club.

Together with the alumni database, and the approach to the released footballer as detailed in the first part of this interview, we are beginning to see the Southampton Way.

Ian, on behalf of the club, sits on the Premier League Player Care committee as one of six invited members. Their remit; to research, discuss, design and implement new initiatives in supporting players’ mental heath and wellbeing. There remains a battle to invest in worthy initiatives, and an unwillingness to discuss the negative affects of the industry.

But the voice of the released footballer is becoming louder. I can’t think of a better person, or football club, to contribute and lead this growing area of responsibility to football and its footballers.

Please hit the link for the first part of the interview https://thefootballfamily.co.uk/the-released-footballer-gone-but-not-forgotten/