Reading East MP, Rob Wilson, showed his support for League Football Education (LFE) last week by visiting Progression 09 ‘The Southern Careers Event’.
The event aimed to bring together Apprentices from the football industry with their peers from other sports as well as those retiring from sport, as part of LFE’s strategy to support, re-train and provide alternative career and study opportunities.
Held at Reading’s Madejski Stadium and hosting young Apprentices from across the South of England, Reading winger, Stephen Hunt also attended to show his support to the initiative – he himself being released by a Football Club as youngster.
Rob Wilson, who hailed LFE’s ‘innovative’ approach was particularly impressed with the ‘Pitch2Podium’ programme, which was showcased at the event. The aim of the programme is to provide young football and rugby players who have been unsuccessful in securing a professional contract, with a second chance opportunity to succeed in a new Olympic sport.
The programme provides elite coaching and support to help transfer the skills, abilities and athletic qualities from their previous sport to targeted Olympic sports, where they could achieve Olympic success. There are already several high profile cases of athletes successfully transferring from one sport to another and the programme is gaining momentum.
Previous successes include Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell, who trialled at Plymouth Argyle and Olympic boxing bronze medallist David Price, who was released by Liverpool as a youngster. Even Britain’s greatest ever Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave, was a switcher, starting off his sporting career with rugby, before turning to rowing.
Speaking after the event, Rob said,
“Each year the sporting world produces hundreds of exceptionally disciplined, dedicated and talented young people who don’t continue to compete professionally, but who have a huge amount of valuable skills to offer.”
“I’m really impressed with LFE’s initiative to help these young sporting Apprentices deal with being rejected by their Clubs and offering them alternative opportunities, whether as athletes in other sports, as coaches or physiotherapists, or through further education. It was great to see Stephen Hunt here showing his support, and it would be fantastic if the Government threw its weight behind the idea.”