Eddie Odhiambo, Head of Football at Velocity, reflects on the achievements of students on and off the pitch leading up to Christmas
One of the key drivers behind my decision to join Velocity Football was the programme’s commitment to developing key skills in players which can be applied in the real world.
The overwhelming majority of players we enrol each summer arrive with the dream of one day becoming a professional footballer.
While we strive to keep that dream alive to the best of our ability, at the same time we’re constantly reinforcing the skills, knowledge and behaviours which create well-rounded individuals equipped to start a career in sport when they graduate.
Since September, we’ve witnessed great progress both on the football field and in the classroom which I know our coaches and tutors take a great deal of pride from.
Operating five squads – for male and female players – who play in their own respective leagues means playing opportunities are there for everyone. Combined with regular training sessions, we’ve noticed a boost to the technical, tactical and physical ability of every player who has applied themselves to our syllabus.
Two things have stood out for me this term. Firstly, Velocity was heavily represented in Oxford City FC’s FA Youth Cup run, which reached the first round proper where we faced Category One academy side Reading.
Sharing the pitch with players who are challenging for professional contracts was a fantastic experience for our players, and reinforced to them the level required to continue pursuing the professional dream.
Also, we’ve added some consistency to the routines of our female students who now play in a structured league which is a huge boost to all concerned.
Our other key focus area is how we can develop players academically, so they can understand what they want from their futures and how we can support them in realising their goals.
Professions in football – and professional sport generally – are not limited to the 11 players on the pitch. It employs coaches, analysts, reporters, nutritionists, officials and more.
We care about players’ destinations beyond Velocity, and have established a learning culture where punctuality, positive behaviours and development are prioritised so they’re ready to embrace life outside of education.
On top of our training programme and learning modules, we’re providing every player with the opportunity to explore the role of a professional coach, an official and in the journalism and media field.
Extra areas of focus in the new year will include physiotherapy and analysis – both fantastic career opportunities which we believe are important to expose players to before their education ends.
In summary, the whole team has been really encouraged by the buy-in and attitudes of players who have displayed a real enthusiasm to learn and develop.
On behalf of everyone at Velocity Football, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Festive period and a Happy New Year.
Eddie Odhiambo, Head of Football.