Cambridge United’s Professional Development Phase Lead Coach, Tom Pell, provides an insight into the educational and life skill workshops provided to the Club’s youth team players throughout their time with the Football Club.

Throughout the season, our Youth Team players will have carried out the following:

• FA Level 2 Coaching Badge
• 1st Aid Workshop
• Emergency Aid
• ‘Busy Getting Better’ Day

But in the last month alone, the boys will also have had the opportunity to complete the following:

• Mental Health Workshop

This has been a six week course of one hour session per week – whereby the boys have gone through a variety of weekly clinics to cover all areas of ‘Mental Health’ including depression and anxiety. This has been delivered by our very own Community Trust staff which again highlights some of the fantastic work they are doing.

• Sporting Chance Presentation

Sporting Chance is a company founded by Ex Arsenal star Tony Adams and tries to highlight the risks and realities to footballers of all ages, relating to alcohol use, drug use and gambling. A brilliant presentation was delivered by Jeff Whitley, former Manchester City & Northern Ireland – who was extremely honest about his experiences, of which through Sporting Chance he is now able to pass onto players all around the country and avoid going down that difficult road.

• LAPS Presentation

LAPS is a company directed by former Cambridge United fan’s favourite, Robbie Simpson, and stands for Life After Professional Sport. The presentation was delivered by former Premier League footballer and professional boxer Leon Makenzie. He gave our boys a brilliant insight in to how to look at a life after football and how they can put things in place now as well as the near future in order to help this. A common note from ex-professionals is that it takes so long to work out what they want to do after they finish. However, this brilliant presentation provided some really clear messages as to how players can help themselves earlier, without it having detrimental effect on their game!

• Sexual Health Workshop

As young men, this is often a hot topic with all people of this age. This worshop allowed them to expand their awareness of what it is natural to be thinking about and how to deal with certain parts of their day to day life. It is also highlighted how social media and society can also have an effect on all of these things, which again was something that all of our young players benefitted from.

• Drivers Awareness Course

With a lot of the youth team reaching an age where driving lessons come about. Taking driving tests or taking to the roads for the first time is obviously a big worry for all parents. Making the boys aware of all the positives and negatives that come with being a young driver is crucial, so that they stay safe on the road but have the freedom that all young people want. This was an eye opening presentation for the boys and one that will I’m sure will make them slightly more responsible on the road!

All of these workshops and presentations are just a few of the things we try to provide for our young players off the pitch to ensure they grow up to be responsible, self-aware, role models. That can’t always be said about society’s perception of young footballers across the country and we want to ensure that we have young players that the Club and the Community can be proud to call their own!