It’s been in the press recently that tennis players are paying more attention to their studies alongside their training in order to give them other opportunities post their careers. Emma Raducanu has paid tribute to the work ethic that her parents have instilled in her from a young age, not only related to sport but also in her education. The same goes for young footballers. Not all players will go on to play professionally. Even if a child achieves professional success there will be injuries and retirement to tackle. Literally.

Football Academies at UK boarding schools

This is where Football Academies at UK boarding schools come into their own. They’re for young British and international players of all backgrounds and levels, who want to combine football with education. All have top coaching, often from former professional footballers and provide the students many opportunities to compete at county, national and international level. Academies, however, are also as keen for students to go to university as much as going into the game professionally.

Ackworth School Football Academy

“If you develop the person, you develop the player” is the underlying ethos at Ackworth School Football Academy’s elite football development programme for boys. Run by Jamie Fullarton, an ex English Premier League footballer, the academy offers outstanding facilities and a newly purpose-built fitness suite. Alongside playing football, pupils below the 6th Form must take the required academic course appropriate to their age and ability. At 6th Form level, pupils must take three A-Level subjects, or one A-Level subject plus Cambridge Technicals Sport; and maintain a high level of academic performance. At the end of each term, students are reviewed on both their sporting and academic performance.

The International Football Programme

The International Football Programme is a unique partnership between Lincoln City FC (LCFC) and Lincoln Minster School. Head of Football at LCFC, Jez George, has said “that every young person in the International Football Programme fulfils their academic and football potential.” The programme gives talented young footballers the opportunity to benefit from the professional coaching of Lincoln City FC, whilst accessing the highest quality education in studying for their A Levels at Lincoln Minster School. A pupil of the International Football Programme, Biragam Sodhi, further illustrates this tried and tested combination by saying “The International Football Programme has created many opportunities which will allow me to follow my passion. After leaving Lincoln Minster I aspire to do something in football and work around the game. I aim to continue to play football at a high level and the education I have received has opened up new pathways for me that I am excited to explore.”

FCV International Football Academy & Brooke House College Football Academy

Opportunities to play professionally are available both academies mentioned of course, just not the only option. Other examples include FCV International Football Academy and Brooke House College Football Academy. FCV International Football Academy, the UK’s first private football academy, provides football courses alongside academic study. Former students succeed at professional football clubs within the UK, Europe, USA or in their home country. Many going onto represent their national teams. Brooke House College Football Academy has had 21 players progress to a professional football career, alongside players representing their National Teams at Youth & Senior Level, since its opening in 2008.

Footballers Jesse Sekidika and Kelvin John

Jesse Sekidika and Kelvin John are two such success stories from Brooke House College Football Academy. Jesse Sekidika is a Nigerian footballer who now plays as a winger for Galatasaray. He was first scouted in England while playing as winger at Brooke House College. Tanzanian footballer, Kelvin John, is a versatile attacking player dubbed the “Tanzanian Mbappé” and widely regarded as one of Africa’s more eye-catching talents. He now plays for KRC Genk, Belgium Pro League.

They’ll thrive with an exciting & varied football related career

To conclude, when faced with how to progress your child’s football career, a UK football academy is an intelligent, forward-thinking approach. With 600,000 people working in the football industry, within areas such as sports science, recruitment, data collection and analysis, coaching, refereeing and media related roles; it makes football one of the top three employment sectors in the UK. A football academy undoubtedly provides the foundations for an exciting and varied football related career.