On the ball
The Fowler Education and Football Academy (FEFA), launched earlier this year by former Liverpool footballer Robbie Fowler, welcomes its first students in September – and staff have been delighted at both the quality and quantity of demand.
FEFA, aimed at 16-19 year olds, offers its students a direct route to university with a course that leads to a wide range of academic and vocational qualifications. Graduates of the academy have the opportunity to leave with the equivalent of three A Levels and a string of coaching and sports science qualifications.
All of this comes alongside the opportunity for those on the course to further explore their potential on the football pitch – thanks to training and coaching designed to meet the standards of that on offer at the academies of professional league clubs.
Robbie Fowler, who says his involvement doesn’t end at putting his name over the door, knows only too well what it’s like to have to face those choices at a tender age and how fortunate he was that the choice he made turned out to be the right one. Every year since turning professional he’s seen young players’ dreams come to an end and often with nothing to fall back on.
“I was lucky enough to go on and have, generally, a successful career,” Fowler says, “but it could have gone the other way.
“I might have struggled or got a few injuries and not gone on to have the career I had. That’s why we are offering an extremely strong education program alongside the football academy.”
The demand for places on the course surprised FEFA, to the extent that they had to increase the number of spots available. At present a handful of those additional places are still available, but that may not be the case for very long.
Sports science is a growing industry and one that football has perhaps been late to embrace compared to other sports. The idea that a career in sport is available only to a select few might be true in terms of a playing career, but professional clubs, academies and national sides across the world are fighting over the best sports scientists.
FEFA have created a course that gives students the time to decide if their future is aligned with their dreams – and when that time arrives they will have far more than dreams to cling to.
There aren’t many courses around that offer that. There aren’t many with as determined a team as Robbie Fowler and his colleagues.
“When I go into anything,” Fowler says, “I want it to be a success. The team that I am part of will make that happen.”