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The ESPFA is an education and football study programme for 16–19-year-olds with an invaluable part of the course being the work experience placement our students are required to carry out across the academic year.


Students have the opportunity to gain work experience in the sporting sector they are currently studying. If they wish to pursue a different pathway upon programme completion, they can choose to experience any general working environment.


Required to completed 37 hours over the year or in a dedicated, typical working week, students can take advantage of the experiences on offer at our player pathway partner clubs in areas such as coaching, physiotherapy, business, media or teaching. Alternatively they can gain experiences in other sectors such as trades and hospitality with local businesses.


We spoke to some of our students on how their experiences went as they use the cross transferable soft skills they have gained on the study programme and apply these into the real world working environment.


Three ESPFA West Midlands students completed their work experience in coaching.


Second year student Pablo Padin Ahana took advantage of our player pathway partner Rushall Olympic’s community scheme as a football coach supporting the delivery of sessions to children from 11-16 years of age.


“I wanted to complete my placement at Rushall Olympic Community because it’s based around football which is what I love and I wanted to see if I would enjoy it and would want to get into coaching in the future.


“I really enjoyed the work experience organising, planning and setting up the sessions. Providing feedback to the players was something I realised I enjoyed because it let me see the participants develop and learn from what I was coaching.


“I learnt how to provide people with feedback based on performance within the sessions which gave me an understanding of the communication skills that are required to speak to different people of different ages and genders.


“I can take this skill into any future opportunity as it’s something that is required within almost all sectors that you could work in.


“After I finish college, I want to go to university to study sport. This placement has helped me gain the knowledge of learning how to take control in group situations and be a leader for others. This will help me when delivering future sessions or presentations when working as a team.”


First year student Ryan Smith undertook a similar experience albeit at a different football club as he completed his work experience over a seven-week period at Walsall FC as an assistant football coach.

“I wanted to complete my placement at Walsall FC because this is where I want to work after I finish my college course. I would like to work in a football environment and my love for football would allow me to enjoy my job.


“I enjoyed my work experience because I enjoy all aspects of coaching such as seeing the players develop over the weeks, but I also got to have fun at the same time. I enjoyed coaching the arrival and organising the fun activities to introduce the session to engage all of the players and prepare them for the session. I also enjoyed the end of the session too, overseeing the matches, seeing the players put the skills into the game and achieving their goals making them happy.”


Asked whether the skills learnt during work experience will be of benefit in the future:


“I was able to gain an understanding of what it is like to work at Walsall FC as a coach. I think my listening and communication skills improved because I was told my role for the day which I then had to put into action to be successful. I was able to learn how to talk to different age groups and put my words across to different individual’s considering their ability level.“


Ryan impressed enough over his seven week period to be asked to return in a paid capacity:-


“Walsall FC have offered me a job role for the start of next year, paid employment as a coach in the Walsall FC Community programme. The work experience placement has helped me gain employment because it allowed me to see what I enjoy and Walsall FC got to see me in action as a coach.”


Fellow first year student Jamie Roberts went back to grassroots to gain experience at Bruntwood Dragons FC completing a two-week stint where he spent four hours a day coaching the organisations female athletes.


“I worked with a range of ages but only female athletes, so this is something I believe is interesting as there are more options and opportunities within the women’s world of sports as it is so new. I enjoyed the work itself as it saw me being very hands on with delivery taking responsibility for sessions as we would coach both groups on the same day, so this stopped it getting tedious over the course of the day. The tasks I took on during the days were delivering football sessions as well as assisting the sessions being delivered by other coaches which allowed me to see other styles of coaching.”


It wasn’t just coaching drills and sessions that Jamie experienced as injuries and safeguarding his participants were also key components of his placement:-


“I learnt how to deal with different situations such as injuries occurring during the sessions as well as unhappy individuals. This gave me an understanding of what it feels like to be under pressure, needing to find solutions and having to think quickly on my feet. This will benefit me in the future as these situations will often occur in the same manner as they did during this. The injury may change but the manner in which I had to deal with it will be similar so I will eventually have the confidence to do it without thinking.


“My work experience gave me a taste of what my potential future can look like with my working life revolving around football and sport, I think this would give me great sanctification and make me want to be at work every day. I am actively looking for coaching qualifications to complete to allow me to carry on with where I left off after this placement.”


Another student who went back to grassroots was ESPFA Derbyshire’s Kacper Lis who completed his placement over the season at Springwood United, a junior football club he previously gained experience at.


I wanted to complete my work experience placement at this organisation because I had a good experience completing previous work experience last season and so I wanted to return so I could learn more skills to help me in the future. I also used to play for this team when I was young and wanted to give back to the community whilst trying to improve my coaching skills.


“Some of the skills that I learnt on my work experience placement will help me in the future to achieve the job I want. I learnt how to communicate to the players in different ways, including demonstrating drills if a player was struggling. This included players with a range of different abilities and ages. I also learnt how to be more organised because I had to help set equipment up before and after the sessions. This will help me going forward as I want to go into coaching in the future and I can use these skills to help me.”


Over in Staffordshire, two-time student of the year Archie Davis spent seven weeks at St Austin’s Primary School in Stafford where he was acting as a PE teacher / classroom teacher at a school he had previously gained valuable work experience at as a Year 10 and 11 student.


“The experience was excellent, I assisted in teaching various sports (including football, tennis, cricket and many more). The placement taught me patience, given that different age groups react differently, and leadership, given that pupils had to listen to my advice to further their ability. This will help me as I am attending university with the aim of completing a sports coaching and physical education course, so it has given me more preparation and an earlier insight into what it takes to be a successful teacher.”


Two Derbyshire students interested in pursuing a career in coaching used their time to gain experience at coaching companies linked to their current or former programme coaches.


Oliver Czechowski completed 37 hours at Kick Off Coaching which is a small run coaching business based in Derby over a five-week period.


“I wanted to complete my placement at Kick Off because I enjoy coaching football and found it very useful for my development as this is what I want to pursue a career in, in the future. I also chose them because I used to be coached by the company when I was growing up and I liked how fun they made the sessions whilst developing players.

“I enjoyed the responsibility that was given to me during the experience because I had to create session plans and then deliver what I had created. I also enjoyed coaching the players and building a good relationship with them so I could coach them in a good environment. In my placement I also had to do tasks like set up equipment for each session and tidy up after.


“During the five weeks, I learnt how to better convey a message to players so they understand it better so they do not get confused. I did this by giving clear instructions and demonstrations which helped the players and developed my skills. I also learnt how the business ran in term of the fees that can be charged for the players to be coached, this will help me in the future as I will look to open my own football coaching business.”


When asked how invaluable his experience was to guide his future options, Czechowski responded:-


“The placement has helped inform my future by giving me experience of what I look to do with my career in the future. It has taught me better how to teach players as well as creating good session plans that are best suited to the players needs and how to best help them improve. This will help me in the future to be the best coach I can be and create my own business.”


Second year student Loui Carrington will end his time on the programme with a progression secured at the company he completed his work experience at.


“I completed my work experience at Stay on The Ball Coaching company. I completed 37.5 hours of work experience in one week.


“I am interested in sports coaching at university so I thought it would look good on my university application to show I am putting in the effort to gain experience. It will also set me apart from the rest of the applicants because I have experience in this environment and already have a set of skills that will give me a head start.


“I enjoyed delivering sessions and giving specific details about the drill to challenge my own knowledge. I always enjoyed helping them understand the drill for different levels. It is very opinion based so you can change and vary the drills to how you believe it should be completed and carried out, so I got used to adapting sessions.”


When quizzed on what skills Loui learnt during work experience, he responded:-


“I learnt how to control a group and have good communication skills so they could understand what I was asking them to do. I have also gained more confidence in delivering session and how to word my sentences so they understand better and what outcomes the drills are trying to achieve.


“The work experience has helped me because now I have a job working for the same company. Stay on the ball has set me on a great path and has opened up a lot of different pathways and opportunities for me in the future.”


The final student from the Midlands we spoke to is Kieran James from ESPFA Nottinghamshire who completed his 37 hours at Aspire Football Coaching, an industry he has a lot of interest in and a sector he would like to be involved in as a future career.


“I really enjoyed my work experience especially with the tasks of helping the players with techniques with the football at their feet. Also helping the lead coach to set up all of the training drills for the players to take part in which improved my organisation skills.


“The work experience has helped inform my future goals because it has helped me to develop more, understanding skills and how to apply them to be able to coach young Children from the ages of 8-17 so that they can improve.”

In the North, ESPFA Cheshire second year student Blake Franxhi completed his placement at Middlewich Leisure Centre after developing an interest within the leisure and fitness sector:-


“I enjoyed my time working at Middlewich Leisure Centre, the task I most enjoyed was setting up the 3G pitches for all the training sessions in the evenings. During my placement, I developed strong communication skills through interacting with colleagues and customers daily.


“It gave me first-hand experience of the realities of the workplace and allowed me to explore different roles within the leisure industry. Through hands-on experience and interaction with colleagues and customers, I gained a better understanding of my strengths and areas for development.”


Two further students who did their placements in grassroots football were ESPFA West Yorkshire student Adam Rix and ESPFA Cheshire student Luca Farrell.


Adam Rix spent four months at Morley Glen Juniors U12 where he completed two sessions per week:-


“I enjoyed my work experience placement as I got to learn various skills and experience new events that I would not have done if I did not take up this opportunity. During my time there, I developed many attirbutes which varied from time management to applying  patience for the participants in the sessions. This has prepared me for future experiences as I want to progress further in sport and potentially move onto a higher standard of sports coaching.”


When asked if the work experience had been beneficial for his future plans, the first year student agreed:-

“This work experience opportunity has helped me inform my future goals as it has given me clarity that I want to progress in a career in sport as it the thing that interests me the most.”


ESPFA Cheshire student and inter-league goalkeeper Luca Farrell did his placement with an older age group but had a similar experience to Adam:-


“I did my work experience at Greenloons Football Club U16s. It is a place I wanted to complete my placement as it would give me opportunities on how to coach and develop players which is something I am considering doing as a future career. It provided me with a variety of new skills and learning experiences that I will use both in the present whilst still playing, as well as in the future.  


“I enjoyed my time and seeing players develop their skills, particularly in a 1-on-1 coaching style which helps you build a relationship and better understanding of the player you are working with. I also enjoyed helping plan specific tactical sessions at training, that the team would then later use in matches to help maximise their results on the pitch as well as developing individuals’ tactical knowledge.”


When asked what skills he had picked up during his time at Greenloons, Luca described several that will be of benefit to him in the future:-


“A skill I learnt whilst doing my work experience is being adaptable, as this was a team with mixed ability players so therefore drills had to be tenured to some. Clear, confident and effective communication is another skill I have gained from this opportunity and something I will use in the future when presenting more training sessions, meetings or when communicating to others in a sporting environment. 


“I have always wanted to work in the football industry since I was young, and coaching was always an option I have entertained as a future goal. This experience has given me a better insight on how the job role works and has developed my knowledge and skills, increasing my motivation to become a coach in the future.“ 


A student who did his placement outside of the sporting sector was ESPFA Lancashire’s Finley Webster who used his contacts to spend 37 hours at Q.D Services, a local company based in the North West of England that prides itself on control panel manufacture, heating and electrical maintenance in the UK.


“I enjoyed the work experience as it was a new challenge. My favourite part was replacing filters within a radiator as I did it independently. I learnt some basics within electrical installations along with life skills such as timekeeping, patience and teamwork. The placement has benefitted me as it has shown me a potential career path if I want to go into working life rather than education.”


Our final student we spoke to was Brighton Mutonkota who used the opportunities on offer at the club he represents to experience the inner workings of a semi-professional football club.


“What made me want to complete my work experience with Mossley AFC was the fact that it’s the club I play for and I wanted to help them whist gaining experience. They had a placement available for me so I took the opportunity. I enjoyed my placement and the tasks I enjoyed most were helping prepare the ground and kits for the first team games.”


Working in a busy environment, Brighton picked up many skills with a couple standing out:-


“Two of the main skills I learnt whilst on work experience with Mossley AFC were teamwork and communication. In a working environment you’ll need to effectively communicate with colleagues and be able to work together with them so it’s important to develop these skills as soon as possible. 


“The work experience has helped me inform my goals by giving me an insight of what it’s like to work for and within a football club.”

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