Eddie Odhiambo reflects on his first year as Head of Football at Velocity

Eddie Odhiambo, Head of Football at Velocity Football, reflects on this year’s highlights and his plans for the future of the academy.

My first year at Velocity has been a deeply rewarding time for me.

There have been many fantastic moments, but my favourite thing about the job has been seeing the personal development of our learners and the progression of them as players in our care.

Seeing players working hard and earning opportunities in the men’s or women’s first teams is gratifying as it’s a testament to both their dedication and the skill of the team supporting them.

The FA Youth Cup was a standout moment too, particularly against squads whose players have the potential to go on and play internationally in the future. Going forward, the Youth Cup squad will be solely the Velocity squad, which is a fantastic development for the programme.

There is a bigger picture to our work at Velocity though, and that’s developing players off the pitch so they have the skills and knowledge to pursue a successful career in sport.

We’ve ended the year with strong attendance and retention rates, which is a key indicator of the positive environment we’ve created for players. They feel safe and comfortable and are developing well – and enjoy and value their time at Velocity.

Some players have even applied behaviours developed from Velocity into the real world, with many coaching, volunteering and taking on meaningful work experience opportunities in their communities.

Seeing them give back and put that extra effort in at such a young age is really pleasing – and I genuinely believe it’s happened because of the strong emphasis we place on treating each learner as an individual.

Everyone develops at a different pace and learns best through varying methods, so ensuring each learner’s experience at Velocity is received as a bespoke package is important to us.

The end of an academic year of course means some learners will leave this month, ready to take on their next challenge. Some have used Velocity and the qualifications gained to continue their studies at university, others are going straight into full-time employment and a select few are starting their journey as a professional footballer.

Providing young people with the skills needed to explore such a variety of options after Velocity underscores exactly what we’re trying to achieve. We don’t for one moment anticipate that’s the last we’ll see of our Class of 2024 though.

Each graduate will become a member of the alumni group for Oxford City – the 1882 Club – and they’ll be invited to events and fixtures with ongoing support available in the shape of CV writing, provision of references and assistance with their mental health should it be required.

Looking ahead, a pre-season induction has been planned over the summer months to familiarise our September starters with what is expected of them, and to remove any anxiety before the start of term.

Plans for our next tour are taking shape, and we are continuing to evolve our personal development programme by inviting a range of speakers to inspire players on a variety of topics.

On a personal note, everyone at Velocity is committed to fuelling players’ success and giving them meaningful opportunities both while studying the programme and beyond. For me, the measure of how successful education has been is how happy and successful a person is when they join the adult world.

We can’t wait to see how this year’s cohort use Velocity to prompt a fun and enjoyable career. 

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