At Shrewsbury Town Academy, we strive to provide the best scholarship programme for our under-18s. We believe that this period is crucial in their development as both football players and as people.
The programme introduces the players to a full-time schedule within football, alongside accommodating their education and well-being. Our vision and mission are to develop players for our first team, the international team and have a successful career in football. Alongside this, we prioritise the development of young adults as people.
The club prides itself on being a family-orientated club, with a welcoming environment. We believe that producing players for the first team from our academy further solidifies the togetherness our club desires. Also, we value giving young people opportunities both on and off the pitch. This is demonstrated by our history of giving young players debuts and chances to create a career in football, most recently seen by giving 12 academy scholars their first team debuts in the 2022/23 season. Furthermore, our strong links between the technical board, first team and academy staff hugely enhance the pathway for the academy players.
Programme and Competitions
During the scholarship programme, the players engage in elite-level competition and training whilst being supported by multidisciplinary staff. The players train rigorously throughout the week which includes; prehabilitation, on-pitch training sessions, gym sessions, recovery sessions and analysis sessions. The under-18s compete in numerous competitions, usually on Saturdays before the first-team fixtures. The players will participate in the EFL Youth Alliance North West league weekly, whilst experiencing the chance to win other silverware in the FA Youth Cup, EFL Youth Alliance Cup and the Professional Development League Cup.
The competitions expose the players to the different challenges they may experience at the senior level. Also, the weekly schedules and different areas of training introduce the players to techniques used in the professional environment. Some examples of this are; advanced gym programs, nutrition plans, prehabilitation and opposition analysis. Another aspect of full-time football we introduce the players to is pre-season, where the players will be involved in a pre-season camp. In previous years, with help from the LFE Erasmus programme, we have provided a pre-season trip to Denmark with the schedule closely following the first team’s.
As previously mentioned, one of the academy’s main priorities is to develop players for the first team. Dependent on an individual’s progress and at the academy manager’s discretion, a player may go on loan to a senior team to further their development. The academy sends players out on loan to expose the players to men’s football with the view of preparing players to be ready for first team football, potentially enhancing the chance to earn a professional contract. The destination for our players, regarding loan club and level, are assessed on a player-to-player basis ensuring that the loan club fits the individual’s needs. Though the academy utilises the loan system, it may not suit every player therefore not all youth players will go on loan.
Shrewsbury Town FC provides both formal and informal education throughout the academy. The under-16 to under-18 programme undertakes extensive formal education that is supported in partnership by the League Football Education (LFE) and Shrewsbury College. This formal education program provides the players with a tailored program that fits the player’s educational needs.
Qualifications the players will complete include; BTEC in Sporting Excellence and Performance, Sporting Excellence Professional Apprenticeship Standard 3, Life Skills and Player Care programme, FA Level 2 / UEFA C Certificate in Coaching Football, a Research Project linked to University or the possibility of studying two fully funded A-Levels (learners must meet strict entry criteria to qualify for A-Levels).
The BTEC qualification is bespoke to professional athletes and comprises three different strands depending on the person’s educational background. The players can enter the Extended Certificate equivalent to one A-Level, the Diploma equivalent to two A Levels or the Extended Diploma equivalent to three A Levels. Functional Skills courses in English and Maths are available to those who don’t meet the required GCSE grades. This is aimed at improving the standard of English and Maths for players who are part of our programme.
The vocational qualification, Sporting Excellence Professional Level 3 Apprenticeship (S.E.P), is a mandatory qualification for players entering the Scholarship Programme. S.E.P is designed to upskill the apprentices in relevant footballing aspects which are required when working in a sporting excellence professional role.
The Life Skills and Player Care programme, delivered in association with the LFE, contains informal workshops to educate the players on real-life challenges. This may include; Equality and Diversity, Gambling Awareness, Criminal Law, Nutrition, Growth Mindset, Money Management and many more.
Alongside the academic qualifications, the players will partake in the FA Level 2 / UEFA C Coaching Certificate. This aims to introduce the players to coaching football and begins their coaching education.
Shrewsbury Town Academy provides homestay accommodation for players whose travelling time is more than 60 minutes from the main training base (at the discretion of the academy manager). In exceptional circumstances, the academy manager may offer homestay accommodation to a player within the 60 minutes travel distance.
Tom Bloxham in his homestay accommodation.
The homestay programme is designed to give players who are restricted by travel time and other circumstances, a chance to earn a professional contract with Shrewsbury Town Football Club following the scholarship programme. Players who reside in a homestay will stay with host families who are local to the main training base. There is a strict safeguarding policy including regular visits in place to ensure the safety of the players, which is managed by the academy’s head of safeguarding. The players are catered for whilst in homestay, breakfast and dinner are provided at the accommodation and lunch is provided at the training base.
Attendance at training and fixtures is essential for development, hence the transport service we provide. When players are travelling long distances to training or other circumstances arise, it can be impractical and hamper attendance. The head of logistics, supported by other academy staff, is responsible for the organisation of the transportation system which utilises club resources and the public transport service where applicable.