A student at Oxford City Football Club’s educational academy has his sights firmly set on a professional career in football – two years after his release from Swindon Town.
Latham Hawkins enrolled onto Velocity Football in 2020 to pursue his dream of playing professionally while gaining an industry recognised qualification.
The 18-year-old will soon graduate from the programme’s two-year Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport course, which combines full-time training with education and helps students aspire to fulfilling careers in the sports industry.
Despite his release from Swindon Town aged 16, Latham is still determined to one day play in the Football League. And he believes his time at Velocity has helped to reshape his career goals.
“Being released by Swindon Town was a real blow,” said Latham. “Football and playing the game was all I knew at the time and going down the route of college or sixth form wasn’t for me.
“I was still desperate to improve as a player and have an opportunity to showcase my skills, but at the same time needed a back-up plan in case my dream of playing professionally didn’t materialise.
“Velocity Football ticked every box for me, and I’m so pleased I enrolled onto the programme. Working with experienced, qualified and knowledgeable coaches while combining training with education has been excellent for my development.
“If you want a career in sport – Velocity is the way to go.”
Based at Oxford City Football Club in Marston, Velocity Football is open to male and female students aged 16-23 who have an ambition to fulfil a career in sport.
The courses are the only ones of their kind in Oxfordshire and provide students with an opportunity to join the club’s renowned football academy and undertake wider development and coaching modules.
Former graduates include recent League Two winner Udoka Godwin-Malife of Forest Green Rovers while others have gone on to fill roles across the sports sector or further their education at university.
Latham has used his time with Velocity to assist the educational academy’s sister company Ignite Sport UK with the delivery of its children’s holiday camps. He has also had the opportunity to work at Oxford City FC assisting with logistics on match days.
Latham added: “Studying with Velocity has suited me far better than school ever did. Everyone on the course has the same attitude and enthusiasm for sport, which develops a great learning environment.
“At the same time, I’ve had the opportunity to work and earn money while completing my studies. It’s granted me a huge insight into what opportunities there are for me in the future.
“Right now, I’m committed to focusing on a professional career as a footballer. But coaching is something I am exploring too as a fallback option.
“Velocity has allowed me to take that next step towards playing first-team football. The opportunity is there for me, it’s now up to me to take it.”