Andy Jones talks about the opportunities for those who don't make itFor every player that has worked hard enough to be a part of an academy at a professional football club, the ultimate dream is a career at the top level of the game.
However, for the majority of players it doesn’t work out that way, and often, young players are released and left with no clue what they want to achieve away from football.
At Shrewsbury Town, the academy works tirelessly to ensure that every player has options, should their playing career not come to any fruition.
Academy manager Andy Jones believes that the club is well prepared to help the young players who don’t end up making the grade, and that they should not be disheartened if they do not reach the professional level.
“It’s important that they’re supported with that because they’ve given up years to be here and it’s important that we help them with whatever the next step in their life is.
“I always say to the lads that it’s not the end of the world, it’s the start of something new and something fresh, there is other things out there for them.”
Jones says it’s important for the club to have a plan in place to ensure that there is a possibility for the players to continue their career on the pitch.
“You’ve got to plan for that, it’s realistic that for some of the lads it isn’t going to happen and we’ve got to make sure that they’ve got good exit routes and make sure that they can do what they can with their football careers.
“If you don’t get your professional contract you can always go on to play at semi professional level and also go on to get another career.
He also believes that the young players should be prepared for life outside of football.
“I think it’s important, we want them to be just as good off the field as they are on it, we want them to go on to be good lads and decent people as well.
“We need to make sure that whatever they go on to do that we support them with it, whether it’s football or university or another job.”
The example of Charlie Musselwhite is one that Jones is keen to highlight, with the former academy scholar now having returned to the club.
“Charlie did a scholarship with us, he didn’t get a professional contract, he went to Loughborough and did his sports science degree and now he works with us doing everything, whether it be coaching, admin, support or a bit of education.
“He’s a great lad and he started and he’s working his way up, he’ll probably be the next one that will leave in a couple of years time but he’s not allowed to go anywhere, he’s one of mine for the time being!”