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Released players given new start by Premier League

2 Jul 2019
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See how a special pre-season preparation camp gave 20 academy youngsters top-class training and hope for the future

Youngsters released by academies this summer have been helped with their futures by a Premier League programme designed to offer them opportunities within the game or elsewhere.

Twenty players at the Professional Development Phase, aged 18-23, went to the League's inaugural Pre-Season Preparation Camp at Loughborough University.

The camp gave them top-quality training from coaches such as Ipswich Town’s Matt Gill to keep them fit and ready for trials at new clubs.

There were also workshops that gave the players insight into career options available to them within and outside the game.

"At the moment a lot of them probably won't particularly be thinking about other careers, or they will probably still be concentrating on trying to get an opportunity at another club," said Martyn Heather, Head of Education & Welfare at the Premier League.

David Rainford, Club Support manager at the Premier League, added: "We want to broaden their horizons. We don't want to steer them down one path or the other. We're just trying to raise their awareness of the many opportunities in and outside the game."

Finding the right pathway

Former Charlton Athletic player and manager Chris Powell was there to advise the youngsters as to what managers look for at trials.

Powell also can relate to their position, having been released by Crystal Palace at 20, before working his way up from Southend United to the Premier League and international level with England.

"It's about that inner drive, that character, that personality," he said.

"Unfortunately, they've had a setback so it's about trying to reassure them that there are options out there, that there is a route to playing football.

"It's about finding that right pathway for that individual."

'Never be closed-minded'

Like Powell, Martin Onoabhagbe was released by Palace but was given renewed hope as one of the youngsters in attendance at the camp.

"The biggest thing I will take away from this is to never be closed-minded," he said.

"There is something out there. You may not know it, you may not be aware of it, but if you ask the right people you can definitely find something that you will love to do later on in life."

Former Fulham player Scott Armsworth, who was also at the camp, said: "It's been a great opportunity for me to work with players in the same position as me, and get the training from top-quality coaches that other players may not be getting, because they haven't chosen to take part."

Also in this series

Part 2: Powell: Make it your destiny to come back
Part 3: 'Pre-season camp showed me I have opportunities'

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