11 September 2018
Cristina Torkildsen - supports the dual career approach for young footballers © Birmingham City FC
The rising stars of England Women’s football now have access to a full programme of off-field performance services support as the groundbreaking FA Women’s Super League Academies kick off this month.
More than 200 players – affiliated to 11 academies nationwide – can look forward to expert advice from a range of specialist performance staff.
And it is hoped the next generation of national female players will graduate to senior football fully prepared for the unique challenges facing emerging elite athletes.
The FA Women’s Super League Academies in partnership with the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), offer 16-20-year-olds a combination of targeted coaching and complementary performance services.
The emphasis will be on encouraging England’s best young female footballers to combine a full-time education with their on-field commitments.
“Firstly, this is a more professional pathway that should help players with the possible transition between the academy and the first team,” said Birmingham City’s WSL Academy captain Georgia Popple. “The expert coaching will help us to develop technically, physically and psychologically.
“Secondly, as an aspiring medical student, the TASS network will help me to develop as a dual career athlete. It will allow players who are passionate about their sport to realise their goals on the pitch and identify potential careers to pursue alongside – or after – football.”
Popple’s views are echoed by Cristina Torkildsen, Birmingham City Women’s Academy Manager.
“There are young women all over the country aspiring to become a professional football player and now they can,” she said. “But it's extremely important that we continue to support a dual career approach.
"The newly formed WSL Academy provides these players with more support than ever before - giving them the time, the environment and the guidance to pursue their dreams.
“The assistance and support of the TASS network will be fundamental in continuing to bridge the gap between the Academy and first team. Players will have the platform to continue developing within a structure that enables them to have a full-time professional training environment as well as a competitive and varied competition programme.”
Tony Fretwell, FA Women’s Super League Academy Manager, identified the need to develop a dual career Academy system and believes an extensive commitment to emerging players will reap long term rewards.
“The FA and FA Women’s Super League Clubs are working in partnership to establish a genuine dual career Academy system that brings together the clubs, further education and higher education institutions with the assistance and support of the TASS network,” he said.
“Within high quality environments, FA WSL players can combine their footballing progression with their career aspirations they as they focus on A Levels, BTECs, or work-based training.
“The aim is very much to work in partnership to develop a consistent flow of highly skilled and employable young people - be that in football, the workplace or a combination of both.”
Ten TASS delivery sites across England, listed below, will encourage The FA WSL Academies to access a full range of services designed to support players on and off the field:
Arsenal & University of Hertfordshire
Birmingham City & University of Birmingham
Brighton & University of Brighton
Bristol City & University of Gloucestershire
Chelsea & St Mary’s University
Liverpool and Everton & Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)
Manchester City & Manchester Metropolitan University
Reading & Buckinghamshire New University
West Ham United & University of East London (UEL)
Yeovil Town & University of Exeter
TASS is part of the SportsAid family and are funded by the National Lottery through Sport England to support talented young athletes in England.
Since 2004 they have invested over £40m into athletes and their support network. They have rubber-stamped 6,000 awards – enabling student-athletes across the country to fulfil their academic and sporting potential.
TASS is recognised as a world leader in ‘dual career’ and has over the years worked with and advised bodies as diverse as the IOC, EU and many government and sport organisations.
Share this article