From Football To Cyber: Inside A Scheme Supporting Ex-Youth Footballers | Panda IT Solutions
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From Football To Cyber: Inside A Scheme Supporting Ex-Youth Footballers

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Football and a career in I.T. are unusual bedfellows. However, an innovative scheme is aiming to give youth footballers who have come away from the English youth development system and are looking for new careers.

A damning report published by Sky showed that there are upwards of 10,000 children within England’s football youth development system. Disappointingly, only 0.5% will ply their trade as professional footballers. Delving into the figures a little further, just 0.012% will see a minute of Premier League Football. That equates to just one player – or 9,999 disappointed hopefuls.

What Happens To Footballers Who Don’t Make It?

With such a huge drop-off rate alongside some high profile news stories around the mental stress that being dropped places on young people, there have been advancements in this area. Many clubs now actively check in with those who have been dropped by their academy programs.

More often than not, the club will attempt to find the dropped player a place at another club through data sharing, highlight reels, and industry contacts. In addition to this, it is mandatory for over-16s to take a BTEC, meaning the majority will come out of the process with some qualifications.

The onus, however, is very much placed on the young person to find a career away from football. Many of the young players fail to grasp this once they are in an academy program, a sentiment echoed by Pat Lally, the director of education at the Professional Footballer’s Association.

“We’re all aware of the drop-out rate from the game; I think some young people don’t take that onboard or understand that the rate is so high and that it’s a dual career.”

youth footballers training

Finding A Career In Cyber Security

Cyber security is a growth industry, with a projected annual growth rate of just under 14%, a career in cyber security could seem like an attractive prospect to some.

However, for individuals who have been through the ringer of youth football, chasing a career in something like cyber security is a daunting prospect. Especially when they have been immersed in an industry with very little tangible, relatable technical skills.

A laptop and a table with graphics of digital padlocks demonstrating cyber security

The Cyber Stars Initiative

Professional sports consultancy firm Phoenix Sport and Media Group (PSM) sort to solve the talent shortage in the fast growing cyber security sector with ex-youth football players. The first cohort of potential cyber security professionals were welcomed through the doors in April and graduated towards the end of July in a gala event at Liverpool FC.

The course has been designed to take those with little to no knowledge of cyber secrity to professionals in just a matter of months.

Forward thinking and inclusive, PSM are looking to widen the net a little, inviting those from a variety of sports, including paralympians, to apply.

An Exciting New Career Path In I.T.

Amongst the initial attendees, was former Liverpool FC academy player, Josh Sumner speaks of his “devastation” at being dropped by Liverpool but is thankful for the course and looking to a new career.

“It was devastating to leave Liverpool FC at the age of 19 after being there for seven years because football was all I knew. I’m now 28 years old and I can safely say that the PSM Cyber Stars Programme has set me on a new and exciting career path in IT. It was always something that I was interested in but this have given me the opportunity to take the first real life step in to the sector.”

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