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Lucky 13 – Birmingham City Football Club give development squad the chance for on the job training

Birmingham City Football Club have teamed up with Heart of England Training, part of the Career Creators network, to provide an apprenticeship programme for the 13 members of the development centre squad moving into the third year.

This new scheme, set up by Heart of England Training in conjunction with Birmingham City, will allow the members of the squad to spend another year developing as footballers, but also gaining qualifications and ensuring they are prepared for their future life, whether they become professional footballers or not. The education programme at most clubs ends at 18 and this new scheme will allow players to extend their education and gain qualifications for a further year at the club.

The apprenticeship, targeted at achieving their level 2 coaching qualifications allows the young men to be part of a work based learning programme, delivering coaching in the community on behalf of Birmingham City Football Club. The squad will be delivering coaching in schools, soccer camps and development centres as well as working alongside club sponsors and working on match days.

Luke Trotman, Defender, believes the opportunity to spend another year playing football and to really get clear in his mind what he wants from his future is key.

“After achieving some good results I had the option of going to university, but I didn’t want to rush in without really understanding what I wanted to do in the future. This extra year means I can add more qualifications to my CV, extend my time developing as a footballer, and make a decision on my future career path.”

The apprenticeship programme, delivered by Birmingham City and supported by external tutors from Heart of England Training combines classroom time as well as on-the-job, work-based learning opportunities whilst also extending the opportunity the players have to be spotted for professional clubs.

Liam Maher, Goalkeeper, was recently released by another club having broken into the first team and through the apprenticeship programme has been given another opportunity.

“Having been released, I didn’t really have anywhere else to go and other clubs don’t run their training programme beyond 18. This apprenticeship gives me the chance to continue playing football and developing whilst learning and improving my job prospects.”

Louise Macey, Football Development and Education Manager at Birmingham City FC Community Trust, believes that this programme is vital in supporting young men who may otherwise end up without a clear path to a future career.

“There’s no doubt that without this option many of the group would now be looking for work, or pursuing university courses in a direction they are unsure of. By teaming up with Heart of England Training we have been able to extend the opportunity for these young men, and provide them with the life skills, training and football opportunities they need to succeed.”

Mitch Jones, striker, is keen to become a professional football coach using this opportunity to progress towards his UEFA badges, and says that the exposure of working with professional coaches throughout the year is invaluable.

“Working with great coaches day in day out, learning from them, not only in the way they teach skills, but also with how they control a group and manage a session is a great opportunity. Having the chance to do this for another year will really help as I look to continue my coaching qualifications.”

Deal Holtham, coach, says that the extra year will open doors for the team.

“While this squad is an extremely talented group of players, they need to have as many options as possible. The cost of going to university has gone up significantly, and the ability for these boys to go to American universities, with a full or part scholarship and earn money as coaches will allow them to have a firm foundation in life. Our responsibility as a football club goes beyond just developing young players, but giving all the boys who we work with the best chance in life – this programme helps us do that.”

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