Wednesday 23 May 2012
Scholars of the Year from 16 Premier League Academies have this week set off on a chance-of-a-lifetime educational visit to South Africa.
The aim of the trip is to provide experiences that will help develop the players on a personal level as they begin their careers as professional footballers.
The scholars were chosen by their clubs after excelling in all areas of their apprenticeship both on and off the field.
The trip is the first of its kind and is a joint project between the Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association, supported by Sports Chaplaincy UK and Coaching For Hope.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for the players"
- Premier League's Martyn Heather
The 16 scholars arrived in South Africa on Friday morning and they will spend seven days in the country, taking part in coaching sessions with young people in the townships as well as visiting social intervention programmes.
They will also visit Robben Island, where former South Africa President Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during the apartheid era.
The Scholars will also attend a reception at the British High Commission and will have the opportunity to watch a South Africa Premiership match.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for the players," said Martyn Heather, Head of Education & Welfare at the Premier League. "They are going to learn a great deal and will experience things that will play an important part in their development.
"What we hope is that when the players become professional footballers, they will have an understanding of the power of football and the Premier League and the responsibility they have as a role model to young people all around the world.
"This trip will give them an opportunity to see how football and sport can have an impact on creating a better future for young people who live in the townships of South Africa and who have struggled against adversity through the apartheid period and beyond."
It is also hoped that when the scholars return from South Africa, they will be better prepared to support the numerous community projects run by the Premier League, its clubs and the PFA.
Accompanying the youngsters will be Matt Baker, the Chaplain at Charlton Athletic, who will be providing pastoral care for the scholars as they reflect on what they have experienced.
The 16 clubs involved are: Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The education and development of young players is a vital part of the Premier League's Academy programme.
The Premier League's Education Department delivers a programme to support the development of all Academy and Centre of Excellence players on a variety of levels.
In September 2010, Ofsted rated the Premier League's education of young players as 'Outstanding' – the highest rating available - and as a result of that inspection, the Premier League was awarded 'Beacon Status' by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service.
And last month the Premier League was praised by education watchdog Ofsted for best practice in the work it carries out with apprenticeships for young people.
Click here to view the full Creating Chances report