End of term report: Key updates from the first term at Velocity Football

Friday marked the conclusion of our first term at Velocity Football – a historic seven-week period where we welcomed our 2020-21 male and female post-GCSE students to the only football education course of its kind in Oxfordshire.

It has been an exciting journey since we officially launched Velocity Football’s BTEC, HND, and HNC programmes on Monday, September 7. The students are enjoying our new and improved full-time football and education programme that is designed to provide an unrivalled progression pathway for football, further education, and career opportunities.

They have developed an outstanding team spirit both on the pitch and in the classroom as they strive towards their respective qualifications and careers in sport.

We caught up with the education and coaching staff that make Velocity Football tick to obtain our first half-term report – and find out what has been achieved during the first term.

A professional pathway

At Velocity Football, our aim is to create well-rounded individuals who will be able to thrive in a professional working environment following their studies. Providing an opportunity for everyone to achieve their full potential is at the heart of our core values.

“Velocity Football provides young people with an interest in football to develop their knowledge, technique, and experience within the game,” said Justin Merritt, director of Velocity Football.

“But we also provide a viable education where every student can work towards a qualification that will enable them to achieve a successful career in sport. This means they can pursue a career as a footballer, but also ensure they develop qualifications and experience to provide a pathway into wider employment in sport.”

He added: “It has been fantastic welcoming our first in-take of students to Velocity Football.

“Watching the students develop and grow in just the first seven weeks has been tremendous and we’re looking forward to continuing to educate and nurture them across the duration of the programmes.

“The feedback we have received from the students, their families, and the coaches and tutors has been first-class. The students are both enjoying and befitting from the programmes and the supportive environment we provide, and the coaching team are delighted with how the first term has gone.”

Velocity Football director Justin Merritt

What has been learnt?

So, what units have our students been studying since enrolling with Velocity Football? Tutor Matt Giles talks us through the key academic process for the first term.

Year one students (boys and girls):

  • Our first-year students have been busy starting two units that will be completed in the run up to Christmas. They are:
  1. Careers in the sport and active leisure industry

Matt explained: “If you’re aspiring to work in the sports sector, it’s important to understand the structure of sport in the public, private, and voluntary sectors and how they differ. In this unit, we have also covered topics such as provision in sport and how location, the environment and population can impact opportunities. This unit provides the students with real working insights that will be invaluable for their knowledge and development.”

  • Developing coaching skills

 “Coaching comes with many responsibilities. By learning the processes coaches go through before delivering a session, we are educating our students how they can effectively educate people should coaching be the sector they wish to work in,” said Matt. “We also focus on health and safety, philosophies, and legislation. The students have really engaged with all the subject matters and are making excellent progress.”

Year two students (boys and girls):

  • Our second-year students meanwhile have completed two units. They are:
  1. Analysis of sports performance

Matt reported: “This unit focuses on what we can learn from a game of football from an analytical perspective. We learn how to digest information like passes attempted and completed, distance travelled and what these stats mean in terms of a person and team’s overall efficiency. We use the latest technology that is used by professional football clubs to provide students with a real-life experience. This unit has been integral to helping students develop their all-round game.”  

  • Sports nutrition

 “What an athlete consumes is of course extremely important. But part of our sports nutrition unit also helps students to understand the importance of preparation, timing and how different food groups can impact performance,” said Matt. “The students have embraced the insights and information we are providing, and it will help improve their performances, lifestyle and wellbeing.”

Excellent facilities

Mickey Lewis knows all too well about the importance of training in a first-class environment.

The head coach of our male programme, who has more than 400 professional football appearances to his name, joked about the conditions he used to train in the 1980s and 1990s.

He said: “Every day I tell our students how lucky they are – when I was growing up, the pitches I trained on were mud baths through autumn and winter.

“At Velocity Football, we offer students two 3G pitches to train on where they can chase their on-field dreams. In addition, our classroom facilities can help shape students into the person they will become as a young professional by gaining a relevant qualification covering a range of relevant sectors.

“As we enter the winter months the pitches here will become invaluable, as they stand up to rainwater and also help minimise injuries.”

Mickey added: “The first term has been extremely positive; all the students have taken to the programmes and are making progress. They are working hard, and if they keep listening, studying, and applying themselves every day they can enjoy a bright future.”

Oxford City FC – the home of Velocity Football

Footballing development

As part of our programmes, students benefit from regular football matches in regional leagues to support their development.

This has seen students play on Oxford City FC’s pitch at the home of Velocity Football and take part in some excellent away games at quality venues.

Mickey Lewis has guided four teams through their respective national and regional league campaigns. Meanwhile, our female students have also developed outstanding teamwork and individual skills playing in the Tactic League under the watchful eye of Lauren Haynes, head coach of our female programme.

The highlight of the term was undoubtedly our girls’ 5-2 win against an excellent BCA College side from Maidenhead in the Tactic League Cup where Tia Herbert scored a hat-trick and Olivia Day followed that up with a brace.

“The students gelled quickly, and we have created a fantastic culture quickly,” said Lauren.

“In a short time, we are already witnessing some strong development in students’ skills, covering areas including technical work, fitness, tactical awareness and ethics.”

Velocity Football female students celebrate beating St Clare’s College 8-1 in a friendly

What do our students say?

For 16-year-old Mason Thomas, progressing his studies via sixth form was not an option he was particularly keen on.

Instead, he signed up to Velocity where he has been granted the opportunity to develop his skills on the football pitch by training five days a week while gaining a BTEC qualification thanks to our partnership with Virtual Learning UK.

Mason said: “I didn’t fancy going to sixth form. Football and sport are two big passions of mine, and I figured Velocity Football was ideally placed to provide me with the best possible opportunities both on and off the pitch.

“I would love to make a living through football when I am older, and a career in sport is what I have my eyes set on. The qualifications Velocity Football offer will stand me in good stead when it comes to applying for jobs in a large variety of sectors within sport once I graduate.”

Velocity Student Mason Thomas faced the BBC cameras earlier this term as part of a feature on BBC South news

Virtual Open Event

On Tuesday, November 10 director Justin Merritt and the senior team will host a Virtual Open Event live on Zoom from 7pm.

If you would like to learn more about Velocity Football and whether it could be the right place for you to study, please join us. It is easy to sign-up for the event.

Visit our sign-up page to register your interest or call us via 0300 303 0809. Alternatively, you can email courses@ignitesportuk.com.

Justin added: “If you are working out where to go to continue your education and Velocity Football sounds interesting, then I would encourage you to sign-up to our Virtual Open Event.

“The event will provide you with the opportunity to ask any question you may have and we will broadcast our promotional video for the very first time which provides great further insights into Velocity Football and what we aim to achieve for our students.”

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