'Parents' role is crucial in Academy journey'

20 Nov 2019

The parents of Andy King, Joe Gomez and Michael Hector give useful advice to those of Under-16 boys at Premier League tournament

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As Under-16 Academy players across the United Kingdom enter a crucial time in their young careers, the support of their parents is especially important.

During this period the boys will find out if they are to be offered a scholarship at their club, and they are also busy preparing for their GCSE exams.

So the support of their parents or guardians is particularly important and the Premier League and its clubs recognise this as a part of their commitment to supporting the players' development into well-rounded individuals on and off the pitch.

This is why the League gave the parents of players competing in its Under-16 South American Tournament last month the chance to hear from their counterparts who have been through it all already with their boys.

Different pathways

The parents of Liverpool's Joe Gomez, Leicester City's Andy King and Michael Hector, who joins Fulham from Chelsea in January 2020, shared their experience of helping the boys through the highs and lows of their rise to the top level of the game.

"Our families are all different; our boys are all different, and there are different ways to arrive at the final aim, which is for the boys to be fulfilled in whatever they're doing," Angy King told the U16s' parents at Loughborough University. 

"Most of them want to play football - but not to think you've got to take the same pathway as someone else.

"But just look at the time they have been with their club as a really positive experience, and look back at the things they have learned there, life skills, relating to people they don't know so well, working together as a team."

Helping hand

All the parents' boys are pursuing their dream of becoming professional footballers but if they are not offered a scholarship, their parents' support is vital as they look at alternative career paths. 

"Tomorrow they might find a difficult part of their life, when they might be needing someone to lift them up," said Augustus Gomez, father of the Liverpool defender.

"This is basically why we're here as parents, to make sure that they are being supported, being given the right information and being helped through difficulties."

Joanne Shaw was one parent who attended the panel discussion and found it "really useful" in the middle of an important year for her son "not just for football but education-wise".

"It's always good to hear somebody's view whose been there, done it," Shaw said. "They've answered every question, every emotion to do with our boys, because that's what it's about."

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