Posted by SCL Education Group on 30.11.15
NON-LEAGUE clubs can inspire youngsters in their communities into education – and develop future first team stars.
SCL is a private education training provider, specialising in sport. In the past 15 years they’ve teamed up with more than 40 Non-League and professional clubs – including National League Woking and Bromley – to create The Football Academy for 16-18 year olds.
Managing Director and co-founder Lewis Field told The NLP: “I started out on a YTS at Millwall. The football aspect of the scheme was a great experience, but the education programme was limited. Today, the programmes that are run by professional clubs are much more inspiring and provide the player with a more rounded experience, giving them the platform from which they can build a great career.”
SCL has mirrored the approach taken by the professional clubs, developed certain aspects of the programme and created a unique solution for Non-League and Community Trusts. The Football Academy gives them the same opportunity to attract players, who although may not be top flight, still have much to offer the club and much to gain themselves.
“Steve Franks (Partnership Director and co-founder) and I wanted to create a programme that delivered results for the clubs and inspired the learners. We wanted to link education, football and employment opportunities.
“Our Academy programme uses the power of football as a tool to motivate and encourage young people to stay in education while keeping one eye on the dream of progressing through the ranks to the first team or for other opportunities in men’s football.”
SCL’S Football Academy offers clubs the unique opportunity to run the programmes from their own ground or facility.
“Our USP is that we deliver the education programme from the football club alongside the football programme. In short, we are an onsite college but with many advantages. Instead of students taking time out to go to a college, they are immersed full-time in the club environment and experience what it is like to be part of a football club.”
Field continued: “The clubs benefit too. Having the education delivered by a college may restrict when the football training takes place. By having the education delivered at the club’s facilities, we can create a bespoke timetable that suits both our needs.
“A lot of the clubs are also keen to progress Academy players into their first team. Having the players at the club full-time, training day in, day out gives the first team manager the ability to monitor their progress closely as well.”
Academy players can earn a BTEC Diploma in Sport as well as qualifications in Maths, English and sports coaching. For clubs who have community schemes, players also undertake work experience and coach at schools or holiday camps.
“The inspiring environment of football and education on one site alongside our professional teaching has made for outstanding success rates. For education, our success rate is 95 per cent, which is around 12 per cent above national average.”
“We also pride ourselves on delivering a quality education and football experience for young people that creates opportunity for them including progression into men’s football, relevant employment, Apprenticeships or higher education.”
SCL has also launched an FA affiliated league – The SCL Youth Development League – to provide midweek afternoon games for clubs.
“With demand from clubs being high, we recently launched the SCL Youth Development League with first round of matches taking place on September 23. We already have 23 clubs signed up so we are anticipating an exciting launch season and with many more opportunities planned, we hope to see the League grow.”
Setting up the League is just one example of how SCL work in partnership with their Academy network.
“We also offer excellent training and support for our Academy partners. In-service training for coaches, club-specific pages on our recently launched website, a marketing toolkit and an online trials booking system are just examples.
“We believe in creating the correct relationship with our club partners for long-term success and work hard to ensure we deliver for the clubs and for our learners.”
Field concluded: “We are always interested in meeting with clubs to discuss how we can take their programme to the next level. We also have funding availability to establish new programmes with clubs for 2016-17.
“So whether clubs have an existing Academy and are looking for an alternative education provider or want to set a programme up from scratch, SCL has the expertise, support structure and experience to make it happen.”
This piece first appeared in The Non-League Paper on Sunday, September 13th.