League Football Education’s, ‘My Future Today’ programme, which is geared towards the personal development of young footballers, took place at Ewood Park last week.
The initiative, designed to support the holistic development of footballers by strengthening the idea that they are more than just a footballer, has involved some thirty clubs and over 500 academy players aged 16-18-years-old.
Rising star Daniel Butterworth was one of the young Blackburn Rovers players at the Ewood event, and the young forward felt the programme was a worthwhile exercise.
"I thought it was good to learn about other options especially if football doesn’t work out for us all," said Butterworth.
"It’s more than likely that it’s not going to work out for us all, so we have to have something else to do, something else within our lives.
"We all want to be footballers, we’re here to be successful players but it’s important that we do things like this. The group discussions and hearing what other people had to say and what they thought was interesting. There were a range of views and it was good because it helped us to bond as a group as well. It was a little bit challenging because it’s not something I’m used to.
"We had to think about trying to sell ourselves and say what we were good at away from football. On days like this you think it’s going to be one of those boring long days but there were good messages given to us all and you have to learn from that and take it away with you when you leave."
The ‘My Future Today’ programme tackles the concept of athlete identity and provides players with insight to their personality profiles as well as encouraging them to develop and recognise all their skills and interests. The sessions also help players understand their employability skills and increases awareness of dual careers and opportunities away from football. This season’s programme is supported by The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and AFTA Thought.
League Football Education, project manager Dan Jolley, said: “These events focus on personal development and providing an opportunity for apprentices to think about their own personality, skills and interests. It is a holistic approach to support them in becoming rounded individuals. In turn that delivers on and off the pitch benefits. We want them to understand their own identity and to realise that this can help them as players but that they are also more than just young footballers.
“Ex footballers and Olympians reinforce that message and we ensure that everyone leaves with a raised awareness of the support networks and opportunities that are open to them.”
Chris McCready, a former professional footballer who now works for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, added: “This project is quite different in football and addresses the personal development of young players through interactive workshops, activities and drama. We challenge players to think about themselves as more than just a footballer and want them to think about themselves in broader terms.
“We believe that interests, developmental activities and better relationships will deliver better separation from football and allow them to perform, maintain their emotional well-being and smooth their transition inside or outside the game.”