Education and the Realistic Numbers Game

For every Gerard, there’s a former liverpool academy teammate of his who never became a professional.

For ever Pogba, there are former teammates of his at academy level who never made pro and for everyone that made it as a pro, there are even fewer that churn out successful careers……… football is a very unforgiving sport.

No one cares what you did last week yet alone last season. It’s a numbers game and you’re either in the green and producing or in the red and a liability.

Grim and gloomy as it may sound it’s the cold hard facts, that my parents made clear to me when I made it clear that I intend to embark on a professional playing career and I intend to be the best in the world.

The deal and compromise I made? That I would be as relenting in the classroom as I am on the football pitch and that’s the way it’s been.

I am an honor student at my school as I am a good player out of the classroom. I take great pride in my education as I take great pride in being the best on the pitch and harbour private dreams of being a medical doctor or a writer when my football career is over.

There are many indications for me personally that tells me I’m on track to accomplishing my goals as a football player….many guarantees (won’t disclose what or who) in an industry with no gaurantees and I’m very confident that in 3-4 years the world will know who I am for my skills ont he football pitch.

Even with that…For every me though, there are sadly many others that won’t make pro and unfortunately have been slacking when it coms to academics or those that will make pro, won’t have much of a career and were slacking academically and don’t have much of a career outside of football.

Truth is as much lip service as clubs pay to academics they truly really do not care about academics and players are just that players.

The ones with no foresight don’t ask themselves, well what am I going to do if this doesn’t pan out because if you’re a top athlete a I am as I’m around, you don’t see beyond now and the glitters of a rewarding pro contract.

You don’t know or research to find out how many players at Under-15 with Martial are still playing professionally, how man AC Milan Under-19 pro signed players get to reach first team?

How many Real Madrid Pro signed Under-18 players get to play first team football…. yes I have a dream, have a focus and in this field you are to approach it with an all or nothing approach, the no backup plans approach, the I will make it approach but in life there are no guarantees.

Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t know he would get as far as he did when he was an Under-15 player, he might have had the arrogance that we all have that he will, but never knew how far he would go and sometimes a series of fortunate events, your abilities, right team, right coach, right moment and luck are the necessary ingredients to making it.

No one knew Mbappe till two seasons ago, no one knew Kante till he made it, for ever Ricky Hatton there’s a Mickey Hatton, you might wonder who Mickey Hatton is…exactly my thoughts exactly.

Why do I say clubs pay lip service to academics but really dont care?

I play for an academy where as it’s customary, you attend school with your teammates and train in the morning and the whole school and club intermingle – out of about 21 players, only three are in what we call upper class (me and two others), four were held back the year before and are a grade behind and the rest are at the lowest academic levels.

Any repercussions from the club? No, said players are still at the club, no game suspenson till you get your grade up, no repercussions whatsoever and it’s the same all across the country with friends I have spoken to at other clubs, same scenarios as if it’s an unwritten rule for footballers to be dumb or a running joke “school? lol” who pays for this robbed potential years from now? That player that signs a pro deal at 17 to the B team and doesn’t make it past the B team.

Doubt me…start looking at the roster of every clubs U16, U17s, U18 and reserves and see over the years how many of them make first team, how any end up being released after 2-3 years in the reserves and are done with football and how many get loaned out to lower teams and are…bounced around till they are done with football?

The result you’ll find will be grim and a bit scary. Yes playing football is demanding as an elite player, you train 4-5 times a week with your team, go to school during the day for some opposite, (school at normal school hours and practice at night), you have a social life and are still a kid, you put hours at least in my case daily into training yourself, you have a lot of things going on so you do the minimum, barest minimum just to get by because in life your priority is and remains being a professional football player and your life revolves around it.

I get it, life of a Baller is tedious I am one I know. If you are a parent who has a child that plays football…please please face him or her with these cold hard truths…tell him or her yes child I believe in you, you will make it, I believe in your gifts as a player but I also want you to have a backup so please take your academics seriously.

To the academies all around Europe…….. shame on you because you rob your nations and young kids of their true potential by not enforcing the creed of a student athlete which is student first, athlete second.

When you look at the numbers, it just doesn’t add up and doesn’t make sense that academics isn’t given the same attention as kicking the ball at football academies through Europe.

One day, these words will reach someone who might do something about the clubs inactions and restore things to their proper order.

About the author: Secret Academy Player

Our Secret Academy Player is a Under-15's player for European Cup winning club and a current youth international.

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