Providing a quality residential soccer course is more than just offering coaches from a certain club,” says Remco Weeda at Exsportise UK-based residential sport, music and English language camps for children aged between 10 and 16. For this reason, football clubs are teaming up with language schools to capitalise on their global brand appeal. Exsportise has partnered with the UK’s Arsenal FC for over two decades. “All students are assessed and placed in a group depending on their age and ability,” Weeda explains. “All coaches are qualified, while the head coach is a professional Arsenal soccer schools coach. Each week follows a programme consisting of agility drills, ball control, small-sided games and plenty of fun elements such as foorball tennis and the [Arsenal player] Theo Walcott Time Trial.”
Indeed, Arsenal scores well in terms of language plus football programmes, and Stafford House operates a We Speak Soccer course with the Gunners (the team’s nickname). Michael Bruce explains students receive 15 hours of English tuition plus 20 hours of football coaching per week. “As well as football coaching, the Arsenal coaches run seminars about diet and nutrition, psychology, team tactics, formations and what makes a great player.” Other activities, an Arsenal kit pack and a tour of the stadium are included in the programme, he adds.
Summer provider Lines partners with Arsenal and Chelsea FC, current champions of Europe, for its UK courses. Dirk van Nieuwenborgh says that while their academic programme is the focus, they aim to offer the best possible “extra” with these partners. Another London-based club, Tottenham Hotspur, teams with Twin Summer Centres. Content developed by the club’s Player Development Programme includes ball mastery, passing and receiving, counter attacking and goal scoring.
Spain’s Real Madrid is a world giant, and the team known as Los Blancos partners with King’s College International’s summer programme. “The coaching is developed by professional trainers from The Real Madrid Foundation,” says the school’s Luisa Coque Martínez. “In addition, the students learn personal and social values from playing and training, such as learning to give a full effort, treating others with respect [and] being part of a team.”
The UK’s Manchester, home to City and United, as well as the National Football Museum is “the capital of football”, says Nicola Whyley at ELC Manchester, whose relationship with City, current English champions, provides training at the club’s sport development complex. “The coaching is run by professional, FA-qualified coaches and incorporates fitness, reaction games, control and technique training,” she says.
There are longer-term options for the aspiring Messi or Ronaldo. Lincoln University, New Zealand, works with Asia Pacific Football Academy (APFA) and Chelsea. “The APFA puts a strong focus on the development of the individual player,” says Liz Wright at the university. “Pitch sessions are a combination of technical skills training and helping to develop a greater tactical understanding of the player’s role in the game situations.” Each player receives physical testing, evaluation and a detailed report including video footage, she adds, with many graduating to a full-time player development programme.
Also at Manchester City’s complex, inlingua Manchester operates a football college. Peter Hayes, Director, says there are several objectives, including improving fitness, strength, skills and tactical awareness and identifying appropriate academic or vocational pathways. As a boarding school, GCSEs, A-levels and sport diplomas are among the progression options. Highly-qualified UEFA coaches, state-of-the-art facilities, including the filming of matches for post-match analysis, and regular competitive matches for players to showcase skills to clubs are among the benefits. “Some players have such an exceedingly high level of football skill that they are offered professional player or academy contracts,” Hayes enthuses.
As befits a team sport, language and football pass to each other. “The language programme at Exsportise is traditionally interspersed with coaching language, jargon, sports newspaper projects, nutrition and game preparation,” says Weeda. Stafford House has developed its own football-based syllabus and workbooks, while inlingua has produced a syllabus covering the language of football coaching.
“Football has become a real UK marketing tool, and many kids have one of their main national players playing in the top teams, and that is key in their eyes,” says van Nieuwenborgh about football courses’ appeal. Whyley agrees, noting that Manchester City signing top Spanish and Italian players led to increased interest from those markets.
A selection of language plus football club courses
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