With a rich history of developing professional players and a retail arm renowned as ‘The Professional’s Choice’, multi-sports specialists, Pro:Direct, are disrupting the world of sport as they continue to engage, influence and inspire.
Now turning their attention to unlocking the potential of young players, the official Academy of the global retailer has linked up with leading providers of education through sport, SCL, to deliver an education and training programme like no other.
Providing an opportunity for 16-18 year olds to train and compete like a pro while studying full-time, the education and football development programme delivers a unique mix of in-classroom and on-pitch learning.
On the decision to partner with SCL, Pro:Direct Academy’s London Brand Executive, Mollie Kmita, explained: “We were looking for a highly qualified organisation to provide the academic element for our programme. For the first time, we were looking for an external education provider. It was our natural move.”
Despite only being in their first year of delivery, the football providers are already celebrating success from their London-based elite Academy programme.
“We receive extra support and facilities that cater to the needs of our football provision”, Kmita added. “Everyone at SCL have been great. They’ve been on the phone, email, and in to visit. We’ve been supported really well throughout.
“We’re able to be flexible in how we provide the education, and we’re able to adapt different teaching methods. The mentors that we have in are great and we’re able to adapt our timetable depending on how the season’s going and how their workload is.
Academy Director, Daniel Moss, continued: “The programme helps young people to follow a route through education that they are passionate about, which is extremely important for young people when forming their futures.”
Enjoying their first season in SCL’s Development League, Kmita said: “For us it was important to get extra fixtures and additional game time for all our lads. We have quite a big group, so for us to be in two leagues rather than just one, it suits our programme perfectly.”
The full-time education and football development programme prides itself on its unrivalled exit routes and progression opportunities for its learners.
With ties to one of the biggest online retailers in the world, the programme provides learners with the exclusive opportunity to meet professional players, work with brands at events, and experience the pro football world like no one else.
“There’s loads of opportunities for our lads within London. It’s very competitive so we try to ensure that we have our unique selling point in SCL, and in our other opportunities which Pro:Direct as a brand can provide our lads”, Kmita explained.
“Being linked with the retail arm allows us to be linked with some of the biggest brands in the world; Nike, Adidas, Puma. With that comes amazing opportunities within events, kit launches and meeting professional footballers.
“We’re able to provide our learners with all those different incentives to keep them on track and to keep their education at the forefront. They know that these are the sort of rewards they get if they do that”, continued Kmita.
Creating unique opportunities for students whilst enabling them to reach their potential, the future is looking bright for the Pro:Direct Academy learners.
“The programme is able to offer a range of opportunities for each player and helps us to work with the player to achieve their own personal goals”, explained Moss. “This might be joining the pro game, attending University following their time with us, or preparing them for their dream job. We have the freedom to help the player in the way they need.”
“We have a grassroots club with over 800 kids playing for it, both boys and girls, so we have the coaching exit route”, Kmita explained. “We’re also linked to a retail store on Carnaby Street in Central London, so if they’re interested in retail, or if they want to earn some money on a Saturday or Sunday, they can go and work there.
“Naturally, we have the football exit route because of our elite site at Market Road which SCL is linked with, which will push footballers back into the game if possible. And then there’s obviously the education.”
Ensuring they are best prepared for their future, learners are equipped with opportunities for developing transferrable skills through practical work experience.
“Being a brand, we have exposure to media and photography opportunities”, explained Kmita. “We have a student who wants to be a photographer, so she now comes to all of the brand events. She’ll gain two years’ worth of photography experience as well as gaining her qualification.
“We also have one of our girls coaching within our grassroots club, three students working in the evenings at the retail store, and some of our boys are coaching too.
“We like to let people know that it’s not just a football provision for us”, added Kmita. “The exposure that we have across the different industries is vast. There’s more than just football experience and opportunity here.
“We’re trying to provide our students with the best possible stepping stone into the exit route of their choice, for them to go on and excel in their life. We’re wanting to produce good players and people, both on and off the pitch.”
“We’ve seen four players re-enter the professional game since the start of this season following failing to earn professional contracts this time last season”, Moss explained.
“We are extremely proud that our coaching and provision in partnership with SCL has helped develop these players to a point where they now have the opportunity to achieve in the pro game.”
Crediting the team on the Academy programme’s success, Kmita said: “As Pro Direct Academy staff, we have the best people in the game, I truly believe that. It’s not just a football programme. We’re trying to create good people to go on to get their next step.
“We’ve come across lads who have been on previous programmes who are now transferring over to us. They find better support from working with us and SCL than other provisions. We see a lot of reassurance in that”, added Kmita.
“We’re growing fast, in terms of what we look to do with our programmes in the UK, nationwide, and our partnership with SCL means that we’d like them to come on that journey with us.”.
To find out more about the Pro:Direct Football Academy programme in partnership with SCL, or if you know someone aged 16-18 years old who would like to apply, visit http://wearescl.co.uk/pro-direct.