Life skills and personality have been hailed as key successes of 7 Elite Academy UK, as the youth football organization approaches its first anniversary in Liverpool.
The global 7 Elite Academy organization runs youth football teams for hundreds of players in the Unites States, United Kingdom and Africa, alongside a successful annual international tournament.
The first 7 Elite Academy training sessions were held in the city twelve months ago, ahead of pre-season training in August and campaigns in local junior leagues for Under-12 and Under-14 teams.
Twice-weekly training sessions have been held on high-standard 3G pitches in the city, while former Liverpool and England star Stephen Warnock ran a coaching masterclass ahead of the first games.
And following a year that saw a team of UK players travel to Nevada and win the 2020 7 Elite Academy International Tournament, Technical Director Anthony Godfrey is happy with their progress as young people.
He said: “The type of session we have meets the needs of the player’s development pathways going forward to make them better players, but also to make them better people as well. I am so proud of all our players for what they’ve done.
“We put a lot of emphasis on the personality shaping, because we’ve got an idea about the type of player that we would love to create, but also the type of person we want at our academy. That is very important to us.
“We support parents to instill good life skills into our players, as well as good values. This includes the way they conduct themselves, the way they turn up to training, how they leave the training pitch.
“Also important is the respect they have not only for themselves, but also for their parents, their opponents, official and for everyone.
“School work is also very important. We make sure we do whatever we can do to support a player’s education.”
February’s trip to the United States followed an intense six months of fund raising, when 7 Elite Academy players carried out local bag packs, bucket collections and sponsored events to pay for travel and accommodation.
“There was a lot of hard work and a lot of preparation that went into that trip,” Godfrey added.
“It was a real team effort from all the coaches, players and parents doing as much fund raising as possible, to make that trip happen. An Hour For Others helped out with fundraising and 7 Elite Academy founder Wayne Scholes was massively influential.
“Without all those key parties, that trip would never have happened. The memories of the trip will live with them for a lifetime and will live with me for as lifetime, especially seeing those players have that experience.
“It was an amazing tournament for all 7 Elite Academy teams, so to be able to take a team from Liverpool all the way to the US and compete was remarkable.
“What those players did in America, where they started well, then hit a bump and had to score so many goals for points against one of the best teams to qualify for the final, then to go and win it, was real credit to them.
“The effort and the life skills that went on months before we even stepped foot on a plane were some of the best that they will learn. They had to earn that themselves by going out and fundraising and doing all the work.
“They are the life skills they will need when they leave school, when they will be more important than ever.”
One of the highlights of the year saw 7 Elite Academy UK goalkeeper Josh Green join the world-renowned Crewe Alexandra Academy just before Christmas.
For Godfrey, that progress is something he wants to see repeated on a regular basis: “Signing for Crewe Academy was great news for Josh and his family, who are great people. He’s just signed a two-year extension, so hopefully he will continue his journey there.
“It is big for us, as we’re looking at player pathways. We keep in close contact with Josh’s dad about his development because why wouldn’t we follow up? Wherever he progresses to, he will always be part of 7 Elite Academy.
“We hope more players follow in Josh’s footsteps and go onto really big things. We can help to facilitate that and I strongly believe we can provide more opportunities, but only if players put in the dedication and hard work.
“They’ve also got an accountability to match the needs if they wasn’t to get to the levels that Josh is at, or even higher.”