Southend United’s U18s squad visited Twickenham Stadium on Wednesday afternoon as the home of England Rugby hosted an event run by LAPS and sponsored by UCFB.
Blues have handed first-team debuts to over 50 youth team graduates during the past 17 seasons, and on Tuesday evening third-year scholar Tommy Davis appeared on the substitutes’ bench for the senior squad for the first time in a league fixture at Maidenhead United.
Tom Clifford scored a sensational goal at York Road and is a regular in the team on the left-hand side, whilst Jack Bridge has returned to the club and established himself as a key component in Blues’ attacking play after spending the first 14 years of his career in south-east Essex.
However, as youth team coach Danny Heath explains, it’s vital that players know what options are available to them at the end of their time in full-time football, whether that is at the end of their scholarship or at the culmination of a prolonged period in the game.
"The ultimate aim for our scholars is to become professional football players, but it’s also important that the lads understand that a career as a professional doesn’t always happen, or can be short-lived due to injury," he said.
"After training on Wednesday morning, the squad went to Twickenham to attend a Careers Day. It gave them an insight into other career paths if things don’t work out in the way they’d like or, looking further ahead, after their careers have finished. It was a worthwhile day for the first- and second-year scholars and they all enjoyed the experience.
Life After Professional Sport (LAPS) offer advice, networking and job opportunities for future, current and former elite athletes, helping them decide what career will suit them best after sport, giving support and advice about preparing a CV and interview techniques, and putting athletes directly in touch with employers specifically looking to recruit former sports professionals.
University Campus of Football Business (UCFB) is dedicated to the delivery of ground-breaking undergraduate degree programmes in the football and sports industry, with campuses at Wembley Stadium in London and the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
Wednesday’s event included workshops delivered by Aldi, UBX boxing & strength, Action Coach business coaching, JP Morgan emerging talent, Willis Towers Watson, University of East Anglia, Kixx Soccer, Hyperice, Minerva’s Virtual Academy (bespoke A-Level education for young athletes), The Massage Company and UFCB.
Youth team captain Jaden Crowhurst was enthusiastic about the experience: "I thought the boys really embraced today’s activities. It was an eye-opener for us about life after football and all the pathways that are available to us as individuals," he declared.