How U16 Residential gives released teenagers bright future

4 Feb 2021

Former PL midfielder Bradley Johnson shares his academy experience with released young players

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'Pre-season camp showed me I have opportunities'

For those youngsters who are released by club Academies, the Premier League works hard to help them plan for the next stage of their careers.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Premier League held a special Under-16 Residential programme at Loughborough University to help those players see that a world of new opportunities awaits, both on and off the pitch.

One of the speakers at the two-day event was Blackburn Rovers midfielder Bradley Johnson, who went through the same knockback as the boys at the Residential before working all the way up to playing in the Premier League.

Career workshops

"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 told them it's not the end of the world."

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 Tony Moore from the Daily Mail, who edits the newspaper's back page, and an English literature GCSE masterclass.

Support network

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.

Premier League Education Adviser Martyn Heather 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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