Do you have a question about football academies? Below is some of the most frequently asked question by our community. If you have any further questions jot them in the comments below.
What Is a Football Academy?
A football academy is a facility set up to develop young footballers. It’s most easily thought of as a training school. A place where students learn their craft, in this case, football. Every Premier League and Championship Club has an academy, with the majority of league one and two also investing in Academy or centre of excellence facilities.
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What Age Do You Have to Be to Attend an Academy?
The minimum age for any child to join a football academy is 9 years old. This is a legal regulation, which all football clubs must adhere to. To get around this richer clubs, create a set of development programs which cater for younger groups of children. These are less pressured and more focused on fun learning and play. Many coaches believe these sessions can prepare a young player for Academy life, however, it is also argued that children should emphasise more of playing and enjoying football at this age.
Does My Location Dictate Where Who I Can Play For?
Originally the football association had strict regulations in order to prevent the game of football become monopolized. The regulations stated that football clubs were unable to sign youth players who lived outside their catchment area.
- Under 12's must live within an hour's travelling distance from the football club
- Children aged 13-16yrs must live within 90 minutes travelling distance from the football club
However since the Premier League introduce the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), each football academy is now ranked into categories, with added benefits for categories 1 and 2 clubs.
What Happens Once a Child Is Signed to an Academy?
Players age 9-16 will sign a schoolboy contract which is renewed every 1-2 years, depending on the player’s progress and abilities. As the player turns 16, the academy will decide whether to offer the player a place on their Youth Training Scheme. This is when a player is offered a scholarship contract. Allowing the player to combine professional football training with studies, in an environment built to help them progress within the game. Scholors often receive wages from the club as well accommodation. This is known as the professional development phase, where player progression is monitored over 3 years and successful players offered a professional contract. Very few players progress directly through to the first team, and either plays competitive football in the under 23's squad or go out on loan to a lower league club.
How Much Training Do Football Academy Students Endure?
Each football academies training will vary in time, intensity and philosophy. But a general football academy training syllabus will involve the following:
- Football Academy Players train 2 times during the mid week, learning skills and techniques
- On the weekend (normally a Sunday), Football Academy Players will play a football match against another academy team
- Up to 28 football matches in any 1 season
- Under-9s, 10s and 11s, matches are eight-a-side
- Under 11-16’s matches are regular 11-a-side matches
- Academy players are given all-round assistance from the clubs staff
- Players are given practical homework. For example training drills that can be practised outside of academy training hours
- Parents are given training on nutrition and mental preparation
- Players are trained specifically on agility
- Clubs communicate directly with the players schools sports departments to request that students also participate in other sports to work other muscles
How Do Football Academies Develop Players?
Football academies develop players by providing professional training, facilities and experts committed to the individual's development. From day one you learn the basic competencies required of a professional football player. Concentration on:
- Development of individual technique
- Football skills based on the ajax system
- Strategies tactics and technique
- Specialist training methods for outfield players
- Specialist training for goalkeepers
What Does a Football Scholarship Consist Of?
At 16 years old, the football club meet with the player and parents to make a decision on the players future. If a scholarship contract is offered, then the player will re-locate nearer the football club, but as part of the contract will be expected to:
- Contimue with school education at the nearest local college registering for courses such as A-levels, BTecs or GNVQs.
- Carry out jobs at the main club such as collecting up kit for the first teams and taking it to the launderette
What Happens If a Player Is Released from a Football Academy?
The majority of football players do not make the move from the academy to professional teams as competition is so tough. When a player is released from a football academy contract, they are added to a list which other clubs can all access. Players on this list can be approached by any club and asked to join them. Players can also attend exit trials, which give them a second chance to progress in the game.
Can You Just Turn up at a Football Trial?
Professional football academies rarely have open trials, instead, opt for a network of professional scouts who monitor upcoming talent. There are many independent trial academies who help players improve their chances of getting scouted. We have also created a guild of actionable steps to improve your chance of catching a scouts eye. Remember you don’t always have to be the best, you just have to be the most committed and proactive. Coaches can train skill and athleticism, however, determination and attitude come from within.