End of term report: Developing on-field skills and enhancing understanding of sport business

The evenings are much darker, and the mornings are significantly colder, but that has not stopped Velocity Football students from developing on-field skills and enhancing their understanding of sports business this term.   

The past seven-weeks have presented unique challenges as our tutors and coaches have adapted sessions to comply with the Government’s latest guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Understandably, we had to postpone competitive football with other teams throughout England’s second national lockdown and were limited to training in bubbles where students were not permitted to be in contact with classmates outside of their own group.

Productivity and progression are elements which have not stalled, though. In this blog, we round up the latest news from the Velocity Stadium as week 14 at Velocity Football reaches its conclusion ahead of Christmas and New Year.

Professional pathway

At Velocity, it is our aim to provide students with the best possible learning experience to help each person reach their full potential via the power of sport.

In line with this philosophy, we were delighted to welcome England U17s sports scientist Luke Taylor to our facility this term. Luke worked with BTEC students Ondrej and Cara as part of their Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport programme.

Both students completed physical exercises on the pitch before their results were analysed using trusted technology in the classroom.

Justin Merritt, director at Velocity Football, said: “A key part of our programmes helping our students develop an understanding the different types of employment and opportunities a career in sport can offer. Luke’s work with one of England’s youth teams means he is well placed to advise our students about his profession.

“While he was here, he guided some of the students through a session before analysing the results with them afterwards. Ondrej and Cara thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity.”

England U17s sports scientist Luke Taylor working with Velocity Football students

Going digital

Technology has been at the forefront of students’ learning this term as we enhanced our usage of several pieces of state-of-the-art kit.

Before each training session and competitive match, students are handed sanitised GPS vests that collect data such as distance travelled, player load, number of sprints, and heart rate.

We also use 360Player as a communication tool to bring everyone a Velocity Football together and VEO Camera to record our training sessions and matches via AI.

Justin added: “The use of technology in sport has grown exponentially in recent years, and it’s important we apply the latest equipment into our programmes, so students can directly benefit and develop.   

“Using technology has created fresh opportunities for many students who may have never previously considered a career in analytics, sports-science, or business before.”

From the classroom

Year one students (boys and girls):

Our first-year students have completed two units as part of their Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport qualification. They were:

  • Careers in the sport and active leisure industry
  • Developing coaching skills

Female students have also been enhancing their employability skills by conducting mock interviews for jobs in sport and learning about the recruitment process.

Lauren Haynes, head coach of Velocity Football’s female programme, said: “Football is not purely about what happens on the pitch. At Velocity Football, we examine every aspect of the game from nutrition to sports science and the media so our students have a full understanding of all sectors by time they graduate.

“It’s been another fantastic term and I am proud of the girls’ achievements, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted their on-field opportunities slightly.”

Year two students (boys and girls):

Our second-year students meanwhile have delved into the world of scouting and why the job of a scout is so important to the football industry. We covered areas including:

  • The different types of scouting
  • Analysis in sports performance
  • Looking at indicators for ability

Matt Giles, tutor at Velocity Football, said: “The past seven weeks have seen all of our students make great strides in the classroom as they work towards their BTEC, HNC, or HND qualifications respectively.

“Thanks to the generous support of Vestel Visual Solutions and Westcoast, we installed a 75” screen to enhance students’ experiences when analysing their own performances.

“Coupled with our mini-gym, two 3G all-weather pitches, and catering facilities plus our bespoke classrooms, Velocity Football has all the resources it could need to be the top football and education programme in the UK.”

Partners Vestel Visual Solutions and Westcoast kindly supplied us with a new screen to help students analyse their own performances

On-field development

Although Velocity Football’s primary focus is to create well-rounded individuals that can flourish in a working environment once they graduate, a selection of students remain focused on achieving their dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Second-year student Ethan Gough was able to experience the magic of the FA Cup at the start of term when travelling to Weymouth with Oxford City for the club’s final qualifying round fixture.

Goalkeeper Ethan was an unused substitute in the dramatic game, which ended 3-2 to City thanks to Louis Hall’s late strike.

Ethan said: “To sit on the bench and be part of a squad that had just booked its spot in the first round of the FA Cup was incredible, and an opportunity that would not be possible without the support of Velocity Football.”

Ethan’s second-year classmate Tyan Hawkins has also excelled on the pitch and now trains with Oxford City’s first team in addition to his U23s commitments.

Our female students enjoyed their fair share of progress and development too, the highlight being a fantastic 10-2 victory over Bracknell in the league away from home.

COVID-19 secure

Our number one priority at Velocity Football is ensuring we provide a safe learning environment for both our students and coaches.

We have extensive measures in place to ensure key messages reminding students about the importance of washing hands, keeping their distance, and wearing face coverings are displayed around the facility.

One way we have reduced contact with members of the public outside of the Velocity Football bubble is by taking our open events online via Zoom.

Our virtual open events in November and December informed prospective students and their parents or carers about the opportunities we provide via our showcase video that summarised our programmes and the opportunities within them.

To view our video showcase, visit our YouTube channel: Velocity Football – YouTube.

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