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U16 Residential gives released teenagers bright future

8 May 2019

Derby midfielder Bradley Johnson attends U16 Residential programme to give advice to young players without a scholarship

At this time of year as Academies prepare for the summer break, it is an uncertain time for the youngsters who have been released by their clubs.

And to help those players see that a world of new opportunities awaits, both on and off the pitch, the Premier League recently held a special Under-16 Residential programme at Loughborough University.

Derby County midfielder Bradley Johnson was among the speakers at the two-day initiative, having gone through the same knockback as the boys at the Residential, and he worked all the way up to playing in the Premier League.

"Growing up when I was a kid, from 10 to 15, I was at Arsenal, in the academy there for five years. And at 15 I got told that they didn't want me no more, so I got released," he said.

"So, I know how these kids feel, and I'm here to tell them it's not the end of the world."

Career workshops

The boys benefited from their stay at Loughborough, where they trained with elite football coaches and took part in a range of workshops designed to showcase alternative career avenues away from playing professional football.

The workshops included a headline writing and design session with the Daily Mail's Tony Moore, who edits the newspaper's back page, and an English literature GCSE masterclass.

"I've really enjoyed it and I found out that I'm actually all right at something other than football," said under-16 player Jack Sadler.

"These guys have made it clear that they love their jobs and they're involved in sport. I love sport, they love sport, so it might be something I want to do in the future, maybe."

Support network

George Okoye, another youngster at the Residential, added: "I really liked the workshop with English as well because GCSEs are coming up soon, so it's good to get new ideas on how to do well in a test."

The Premier League's support network will allow the boys to build on the skills they gained from the Residential and aid their transition out of their current academy, whether they pursue a professional football career or work towards a career in or outside of football.

Martyn Heather, the Premier League's Head of Education, said: "This is an opportunity to say, 'Well, at this moment you haven't got a scholarship. That doesn't mean that door is shut.

"'It doesn't mean you're not going to become a professional footballer, but actually, all the things that you've learnt and done during the time at the club has actually put you in really good stead to go on and do different things.'

"It's important to realise that just because they're not at a club any more, that we're still here for them."

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