LEARN­ING ON AND OFF THE PITCH...

Play­ers com­bine train­ing with ed­u­ca­tion

The Football League Paper - - ADVERTORIAL - By Matt Bishop

THE last few years have been a rough ride for Charl­ton and the club’s fans, with rel­e­ga­tion from the Championship last sea­son the tip of the ice­berg.

How­ever, away from the first-team is­sues and the trou­bles they’re having in League One, Charl­ton are a pro­gres­sive club, with a bril­liant Acad­emy set-up that is go­ing from strength to strength.

When it was founded in 1992, Charl­ton Athletic Com­mu­nity Trust had just one mem­ber of staff, but fast for­ward 24 years, CACT has won a num­ber of pres­ti­gious in­dus­try awards, hires 120 per­ma­nent staff, has a pool of over 150 coaches and, with the help of ed­u­ca­tion provider SCL, it seems cer­tain to im­prove fur­ther.

Chance

Sean Daly, CACT Head of Football and Sport De­vel­op­ment, told The FLP: “I was work­ing in Charl­ton’s main Acad­emy five or six years ago when I re­alised lots of the play­ers there were be­ing re­leased with no fur­ther help.

“Whether it was a lack of de­vel­op­ment, or not be­ing good enough for pro­fes­sional football, we had lots of lads leav­ing our acad­emy, so I thought it would be great to cre­ate an acad­emy for play­ers like that.

“I wanted to give them a chance to stay in football along­side their ed­u­ca­tion, but needed an ed­u­ca­tion provider.

“We have a host of bril­liant coaches, but no teach­ers. After meet­ing with SCL, I re­alised they were ex­actly what we needed and we teamed up.

“They un­der­stood the flex­i­bil­ity – they al­low us the time to coach the football, and then take care of the ed­u­ca­tion side of things bril­liantly.”

SCL is an in­no­va­tive OFSTED ap­proved provider that al­lows grass­roots and pro­fes­sional football clubs to in­spire young­sters in their com­mu­ni­ties into ed­u­ca­tion and de­velop fu­ture first-team stars.

Over the past 15 years, SCL has teamed up with over 50 Non-League and pro­fes­sional clubs to cre­ate football academies for 16 to 19-year-olds. Football train­ing plays a key role at the Academies, but the main em­pha­sis is on the play­ers’ ed­u­ca­tion.

Daly said: “If they don’t make it as foot­ballers, our lads have to go down dif­fer­ent path­ways – uni­ver­sity, col­lege, ap­pren­tice­ships – and we make sure they are best pre­pared for those sce­nar­ios.

“Football is a great tool to en­cour­age young­sters to learn, and get them mo­ti­vated, but the ed­u­ca­tion comes first.

“We tell the lads, if they don’t keep up with their work and ed­u­ca­tion, they won’t play. That seems to work!”

Sadly, the foot­balling world is a bru­tal one, and play­ers in Academies up and down the coun­try have a long jour­ney if they want to make it as a pro­fes­sional – many don’t.

“And that’s just the same at CACT, again high­light­ing how im­por­tant it is to re­ceive the ed­u­ca­tion they’re get­ting.

Fall-back

“The ed­u­ca­tion SCL pro­vides our lads is the per­fect fall-back op­tion,” said Daly. “I would love them to all make it in the game, but that’s ob­vi­ously never go­ing to be the case.

“At par­ent evenings, I prom­ise the lads and their par­ent’s two things: A great football ed­u­ca­tion from our coaches, and a great ed­u­ca­tion from SCL.

“I can’t prom­ise them any­thing else.

“If we have play­ers that are good enough, we have deals in place to help them at clubs in Non-League such as Dover and Welling, but we can of­fer them so many other op­por­tu­ni­ties in and out of the game too.

“We have con­nec­tions in Amer­ica, if the lads want to go out there and do their coach­ing badges, while we also link up with the uni­ver­sity of Green­wich and Brighton.

“Football is a great tool, but we can of­fer our lads some­thing more than that – an ed­u­ca­tion to give them a backup.”

All in all, it’s clear young play­ers have the chance to im­prove their football skills – and the other skills they will need to be suc­cess­ful in life.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

STUDY FUN: Play­ers mix time on the pitch with time in the class­room

FIRST TEAM: Charl­ton de­fender Jorge Teix­eira cel­e­brates

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