Port Vale FC Captain offers inspiration to Vale’s Education Squad

Port Vale FC skipper Nathan Smith welcomed new members to the Club ‘family’ at the launch of Port Vale Foundation’s Education Squad Programme.

The captain, who’s been with the Club, since 2014 – appearing more than 300 times for The Valiants – presented to a new cohort of learners for the popular education initiative which kicked off at Vale Park at the start of the 23/24 season.

Following an enrolment on a BTEC level 2/3 in Sport, the learners met Nathan at Vale Park with their families, where the captain outlined the culture, values and expectations throughout the Club.

Nathan said “The importance the Club places on valuing people is of the highest importance. We invest time and energy into making people the best they can be, and we set high standards for all staff, volunteers and learners.

“It was great to meet new members of the Port Vale family and give them a congratulations on achieving the required results as well as giving them insight into the way we do things at Port Vale.”

The Foundation revealed 23/24 Education Squad Goalkeeper Tom Beeby was called up to the club’s first team which shows the programme’s impact which operates in conjunction with Stoke-on-Trent College.

The EFL Club Community Organisation said: “We’re immensely proud that Tom’s hard work and positive mindset has given him this amazing opportunity.”



Sunderland AFC gets David ‘Back on Track’

David Little left school in 2017 with very few qualifications and low in confidence.  He joined Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light’s, ‘Back on Track’ programme and started a journey with his Football Club that eventually led to him securing full-time employment with a locally based company, ‘Vantec.’ 

The Foundation’s Back on Track programme is specifically designed for students who leave school with little or no qualifications. The programme engages, inspires and educates young people aged 16-19 by helping them achieve nationally recognised qualifications, improve their numeracy and literacy skills and gain practical working experience.

At the start of  the programmes, David often shied away from group tasks causing a knock-on effect to his already low confidence.  Consequently, David struggled with his self-esteem and had no clear vision on what he desired his future to look like and was therefore hesitant on making decisions that would correlate and affect his future.

Despite this, the support and guidance of the Foundation’s staff along with David’s perseverance would eventually pay off.

With programmes ending and unsure about his next steps, David started to experience anxiety. It was then he was told about a potential two-week work placement with Vantec – a logistics solution provider in the automotive parts logistics field.

Determined to grab the opportunity with both hands, David quickly accepted the proposal put forward to him by Foundation staff, with the latter eager to help David prepare as efficiently as possible.

Ahead of his work experience placement in August 2022, David was supported with interview preparation, he received help updating his CV and was provided with useful information around Vantec and who they were as a business.

Despite being very hesitant in the early exchanges of his two-week placement, David grew in confidence, completing tasks on his own and using his own initiative.

While on placement, David was also supported financially, receiving lunch and travel bursaries. Regular site visits were made to catch up with David enabling Foundation staff to find out how he was getting on and if he needed any further support.

At the end of his placement, Vantec offered David a full-time contract. Although Vantec staff felt he still had a lot to learn, they were very impressed with David’s attitude and dedication, which ultimately played a key part in David gaining full-time employment.

Anthony Parkinson, a Skills Officer at the Foundation of Light, has built a good rapport with David, helping him to become more work ready. He said: “David is the epitome of how the Foundation of Light can transform someone’s life.

“Staff that have worked previously with David over the years are really proud of how far he has come. Through hard work and determination, David deserves this opportunity.”

David continues to work at Vantec with his employers very impressed with his development. He added: “I’m loving it so far. I really like it here. Thank you to the Foundation of Light for helping me get this opportunity.”

EFL Clubs roll out new BA Hons Degree increasing education opportunities for all.

Football fans who want to learn about the business of football can study at their football Club thanks to a new BA Hons degree course in Sports Business Management which will be available at 17 EFL Clubs from September 2023.

Delivered in partnership with the University of South Wales, the degree is specifically designed for students who are looking for a career in business and management within the sports industry. Each individual will get the unique chance to study at their local football Club, often at the stadium via an online learning platform and will receive mentoring support and practical work experience through the Club’s community organisation.

To launch the degree, BTEC students from QPR were invited to demonstrate their business acumen and to come up with ways to boost match day revenue for the Club. Their ideas were pitched to a group of football ‘dragons’, including QPR players Josh De Silva and Trent Rendall.

You can see how they got on here.

QPR are one of 17 EFL Clubs running the new degree from September where students will cover topics including business planning, financial management and marketing.

The first pitch at the launch event was by Avante Joseph and Myles Mari who presented the ‘QPR App, giving fans the chance to access exclusive content about the Club, from the men’s first team to the academy, as well as live commentary of games.

The second pitch by Denzel Magezi, Matheus Rossi and Oliver Hearn-Lee proposed the ‘E-sports room’ offering fans the opportunity to compete in E-Sports tournaments against their heroes in renowned games such as FIFA and Fortnite.

The final pitch came from Angela Oceja, who’s idea was a pre and post-match ‘Community Festival’ to ensure the Club embraced every aspect of its local community. It would give a platform to local DJs, performers, food business and other local entertainers to participate.

On the judging panel the ‘dragons’ included Josh De Silva and Trent Rendall from QPR, Emily Fermor of Hanbury Strategy and Jay Probert from the University of South Wales.

Emily said: “We were very impressed with the plans and it was obvious that the students had done their market research. We were particularly impressed with how each pitch had considered and looked to improve the fan’s experience and deciding the winner was very difficult.”

After a long deliberation of three very impressive pitches the judges awarded Denzel, Matheus and Oliver’s ‘E-sport room’ as the overall winners, with the trio taking home their very own tablet as their prize. Trent commented: “The market research the students had carried out was very impressive. We could really see how this would work and would be something that we’d be excited to get involved in.”

Cathy Abraham, Chief Executive of the EFL Trust said, “The degree is a fantastic opportunity for people to learn about the business side of sport and to do so while getting invaluable hands on experience at a professional Football Club. This is another great example of how Clubs use the power of the badge and their unique position in the community to improve people’s education and chance of gaining meaningful employment.“

Clubs delivering BA Hons Degree in Sport Business Management:
Accrington Stanley, AFC Fylde, Barnsley, Birmingham City, Burton Albion, Cardiff City, Carlisle United, ,Derby County, Exeter City, Hull City, Leyton Orient, Lincoln City, Nottingham Forest, Preston North End, QPR, Sheffield United, Shrewsbury Town, Tranmere Rovers,West Brom Albion.

To find out more about the degree go to www.efltrust.com/ba-sports-business-and-management/

Foundation Degree with Stevenage Foundation enhanced Sonny’s leadership as a coach.

Prior to enrolling on the Foundation Degree with Stevenage Foundation, in partnership with the University of South Wales Sonny was already well known at the Foundation having been an apprentice.

His experience within the environment meant Sonny already had a high level of confidence when it came to coaching and working as part of a team environment. Although Sonny’s foundations did not need building in this instance, the Degree Course was perfect for him to develop further on and off the pitch and nurture his leadership skills.

The University of South Wales allows students to gain practical experience in their desired nature of work, whilst allowing for a blended learning approach where students have both face-to face and online learning. The courses which are hosted at your local football club has a huge emphasis on gaining real world learning through placements with students only having to attend the University for short residential periods.

Personal and professional development is paramount on the Foundation Degree and something Sonny excelled at despite having a wealth of previous experience.

With the possibility to always improve, Sonny said: “ I was able to develop my understanding of coaching techniques to discover how they work in getting the best out of each individual/group.”

As a result, Sonny is now the lead coach for local club Bishops Stortford where his ability to differentiate between coaching techniques is pivotal as he coaches children ranging from U7’s to U13’s.

Click here to find out more.

University of South Wales graduate now working full-time at Stevenage Foundation and Stevenage FC Academy.

Whilst on the Foundation Degree in partnership with the University of South Wales and Stevenage Foundation, Josh gained on the job experience through the Foundations community projects that has allowed him to make the natural progression into full-time coaching.

The University of South Wales allows students to gain practical experience in their desired nature of work, whilst allowing for a blended learning approach where students have both face-to face and online learning. The courses which are hosted at your local football club has a huge emphasis on gaining real world learning through placements with students only having to attend the University for short residential periods.

Consequently, through the mixed learning styles that the degree course holds, Josh was able to develop both personally and professionally to benefit his own coaching, and the experience of the participants he now coaches.

He said: “ The course allowed me to learn different coaching techniques in order to manage each and every individual differently. This allows me to add a different strength to my coaching as my ability to manage individuals with different abilities has improved.”

The course also gave Josh the opportunity to gain professional qualifications in his UEFA B license, that set the foundations for his progression where he not only coaches at the Foundation but is also the lead U12’s coach at Stevenage FC Academy.

Click here to find out more.


Degree course with Blackpool FC Community Trust gives Courtney the confidence chase her dream of becoming a teacher.

Having had the desire to work within sport and education since an early age, the degree course with Blackpool FC Sports College and Blackpool FC Community Trust has given Courtney the confidence and opportunity to pursue her dream.

She explained: “My passion for sports started at such a young age, it is since then that I have wanted to become a PE teacher However, I wasn’t sure that I had enough confidence to teach, which has led me to study on this programme.”

The University of South Wales allows students to gain practical experience in their desired nature of work, whilst allowing for a blended learning approach where students have both face-to face and online learning. The courses which are hosted at your local football club has a huge emphasis on gaining real world learning through placements with students only having to attend the University for short residential periods.

The unique nature of studying for a degree with the University of South Wales means Courtney did not have to choose between finishing her education or gaining experience in a working environment. As the degree provides practical experience whilst student learn.

She said: “I decided that the USW Foundation Degree was for me as it offers a range of opportunities to better my knowledge and experience within a sports environment. The degree can help me become a better coach as I will gain more experience on my placement as well as knowledge due to assignments. “

Having been involved in various coaching and teaching practices from day one, Courtney has naturally grown in confidence, a skill which will undoubtedly be pivotal in her future success as a teacher.

Although Courtney’s confidence is now enough for her to feel comfortable in delivering and coaching an array of sessions, it has not always been that way.

Courtney is a very keen advocate of more females enrolling onto the degree course. Courtney is part of the Female Development Programme as a representative of her year group.

She said: “I personally feel this programme will benefit all females because you are given a choice on what you prefer, it gives you the opportunity to give your opinion on how women can develop in the sporting industry. The more females involved within the female development programme, the more opportunity, and benefits there will be for us!

I feel as it is important for more females to be involved within the degree and sport because it creates role models for other females to feel the confidence to also become involved which creates a higher percentage of female involvement. Women increased involvement can also promote positive development in sports such as values, attitude, knowledge, capabilities, and experience. “

After concluding her two-year foundation degree, Courtney hopes to continue onto the top-up degree before applying to complete her PGCE to fulfil her career aspirations of becoming a teacher.

Click here to find out more.

Barnsley FC Helping Hashim Show How Disability is not a barrier to Success

Hashim is furthering his education and improving his employment prospects through his Football Club. Hashim also has a goal to help others enjoy the benefits of sport. Hashim is studying for a Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development with Barnsley FC’s charity, Reds in the Community.

Hashim has been deaf all his life having contracted an ear infection at just a few months old. But, for him it is not something that negatively impacts his life, a mindset he wants to pass onto others.

Operating through the University of South Wales (USW), the two-year degree course is run in partnership with the EFL Trust in order to develop the required skills and experiences to operate as a professional coach or work in community sport. The degree offers work-based learning with Reds in the Community and allows learners to tailor their interests and gain practical, hands on experience.

Through this, those students studying at Barnsley can continue get hands on experience of the whole range of the Clubs charity’s work. This method of learning really appealed to Hashim especially as he would get to be involved in Reds in the Community’s excellent disability sports programme.

Having started the USW course during the COVID-19 pandemic. This presented more challenges for Hashim with so much work taking on-line. However, he always stayed positive and did everything he could to remove any barriers and be the best he can be.

He explained: “Learning online was difficult for me. As a Deaf person, I prefer to work face to face. I had to work doubly hard compared to my hearing peers. USW and Reds in the Community have been so supportive at every step. The lecturers check in to see if I need anything and to let me know what support is available to me. I just try to get on as normally as I can – if there is a barrier, I put the effort in and try to break it down.”

Hashim is also a talented footballer and also aspires to succeed in his playing career. He currently representing Farsley Celtic Deaf FC, who have just won the English Deaf Football Challenge Cup, and the England Deaf Team. However, it is clear above all Hashim wants to provide the support, guidance, and inspiration to younger hearing-impaired individuals to ensure they can succeed, without their hearing impairment becoming a barrier.

He explained: “I think about younger Deaf people coming through and I would advise them to work hard, try and be the best they can be, always thinking that next step. If there’s any barriers, find the support available. I’m happy to help anyone who wants to get in touch.”



Carlisle United Community Sports Trust’s Traineeships gave Aidan the opportunity to “love being in work.”

Carlisle United are at the forefront of helping young people find meaningful employment. The Club’s charity, the CUFC Community Sport Trust, runs a very successful 12 weeks Traineeship programme which equips young people with the crucial skills and experience to able to get on the first rung of the employment ladder.

There are countless reasons why some young people don’t do well at school and leave the education system with little or no qualifications. This can often be accompanied by low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. This, in turn, makes it difficult for them to find any kind of employment or even get the work experience needed to get a job, which can cause their self-esteem to drop even lower. A traineeships breaks this vicious circle. Run at many Football Clubs across the country Traineeships are key stepping stone that help people who are not currently in education, employment or training find work.

The 12-week course are designed to develop key employability skill and also provide valuable work experience. Based at a Football Club, the trainee will be supported by a mentor and who will address their specific needs so that at the end of the 12-weeks they are ready find work and thrive in the workplace.

That was very much the story for Aidan Brown, a trainee on Carlisle United latest cohort of the programme. On completion of the 12-week course Aidan has successfully gained employment, and simply said “I now love being in the world of work.”

Aidan fully embraced the opportunities the traineeship had to offer and worked hard to develop the skills needed for the work place. As part of the work placement, the Trust secured a 12-week customer service role at VR Gateway. Aidan excelled in this role, taking part in various roadshows across the city and wider communities.

Aidan’s polite, calming nature shone through, and the organisation received some great feedback on Aidan’s professionalism and impeccable manners.

Ian Irving, director of the VR Gateway said, “Aidan’s work ethic, overall positive attitude, and professionalism has been a credit to the team. He has conducted himself well, and performed admirably in some challenging and new situations.”

Aidan also volunteered with the community coaches at CUFC CST working alongside coaches in various primary schools, again his work ethic was outstanding. On completing the traineeship Aidan gained employment at Carlisle Youth Zone as a youth worker.

Aidan explained, “The traineeship programme helped me to establish what career path I wanted to pursue, the work placement elements helped me to secure my decision and guide me in the right direction. Teresa helped me with my application/planning an activity session as part of the interview process for the youth worker position at the youth zone.”

Teresa Mulholland-Traineeship Co-Ordinator. Commented, “We are immensely proud of Aidan, his work ethic and commitment to the programme has been outstanding. Aidan will be a great asset to Carlisle Youth Zone and this just shows what can happen if you give a young person like Aidan an opportunity.”

Degree Course with Huddersfield Town the perfect fit for Connor

Having previously tried various other educational options including media and plumbing courses, Connor was unsure on what his career aspirations were after leaving high school. Consequently, he jumped from course to course, without finding enjoyment in education and not completing the work required.

However, having joined the degree course with Huddersfield Town, Connor now has a completely different outlook on his education.

He said: “Since joining this course I have thoroughly enjoyed it and have completed all my work with motivation, which is a big thing for me as it shows I am enjoying the course.”

The University of South Wales allows students to gain practical experience in their desired nature of work, whilst allowing for a blended learning approach where students have both face-to face and online learning. The courses which are hosted at your local football club has a huge emphasis on gaining real world learning through placements with students only having to attend the University for short residential periods.

The enjoyment that Connor had struggled to find with other courses, is clear to see as he is excelling both in and out of the classroom. With the programme offering practical experience at the hands of Huddersfield Town Foundation, Connor has immersed himself fully into the course despite only being in his first year.

He explained: “There are 6 different modules on the course, the one I have enjoyed the most though was the event management as me and a few other course mates got to hold our own event up at Moldgreen primary school. With no really restraints on our event it allowed us to be creative with our ideas and plan a fun and engaging for the students.”

Connor has worked on the SEND provisions that the club provides; girls Kicks sessions as well as numerous tournaments. Connor has also completed his UEFA C qualification where he is awaiting assessment.

The degree course has been a breath of fresh air for Connor, where he has found something he is naturally passionate about.
The progress Connor has made from an individual who lacked motivation and direction to now self admittedly not only wanting to pass his course but to achieve the best possible grades.

Adam Halliday, Connor’s Education Mentor said: “Connor is a pleasure to mentor and engage with on the programme. He is enthusiastic, inquisitive, and wants to achieve to the best of his ability. He is a natural leader and his peers benefit from his approach to classroom activities. With a fantastic first year coming to an end, and a UEFA C qualification pending, I am excited to see Connor continuing to progress next year.”

Click here to find out more.

Degree course with Tranmere Rovers opened Michael’s eyes to discover his dream job.

Michael once dreamed of the stardom that accompanies being a professional footballer, but through the exposure and experience the Degree course with Tranmere Rovers in the Community offered him, he realised a new dream; off the pitch as a Performance Analyst.

He first joined Tranmere Rovers in the Community to complete his post-16 education with a BTEC in Sports Development and Coaching; this was just the start of his journey.

Following the completion of his Level 3 qualification he enrolled on to the Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development with Tranmere in partnership with the University of South Wales and the EFL Trust.

The University of South Wales allows students to gain practical experience in their desired nature of work, whilst allowing for a blended learning approach where students have both face-to face and online learning. The courses which are hosted at your local football club has a huge emphasis on gaining real world learning through placements with students only having to attend the University for short residential periods.

This is where Michael’s ambitions slowly began to transition from on the pitch as a goalkeeper to off the pitch as a Performance Analyst. Like many, Michael had the dream of playing professional football but the degree course with Tranmere Rovers opened his eyes to a wealth of other opportunities in the game he adores.

He said: “In all my years at Tranmere, the link to a professional football club has proved invaluable to me in wanting to progress my career in football. The opportunities for work experience both inside and outside of the club have been incredible.”

His ability to play the game also allowed him to have an in-depth understanding towards the analytical aspects of the game. Consequently, Michael has gone on to help the Tranmere Education teams and AFC Liverpool.

He explained: “One of my main responsibilities was to create a comprehensive presentation for pre-and post-game feedback to the players. I have worked with the Tranmere Education teams as their analyst to provide a statistical summary of the major events during matching to the coaching team, which is an important tool for improving future performance and player development.”

Michael is still completing his degree after enrolling in the top up course; BSc (Hons) in Community Football Coaching and Administration. However, he has achieved a wealth of experience and qualifications to ensure a successful future.

He has completed his UEFA C coaching badge and through his hard-work and opportunities that the University of South Wales pathway has given him he was appointed as National League side, Chorley FC’s analyst for the 2022/23 season, something he credits highly to his time at Tranmere Rovers in the Community.

“I am currently finishing my degree but know I have a bright future in football thanks to my time at Tranmere. I have already been accepted to complete a master’s in Performance Analysis in Football at University Campus of Football Business for September.”

Click here to find out more about the degree