With over 3 billion fans around the world, soccer is widely believed to be the world’s most popular sport. Moreover, with the heavy financial investment that the biggest clubs have received in recent decades, a professional soccer career has become a very lucrative prospect for many young people around the world. In fact, there are over a million registered professional footballers in Spain alone.
However, there are many questions that intending footballers often grapple with, such as “What are the qualifications required”? “Do I need to pass through a football academy”? Some may ask, “In an academy, can I ease my academic burden by paying for my assignment or project? Can I pay for someone to do my homework while I train?” “How do I manage the workload of school with my dream to become a football player?” In this article, we discuss the educational requirements that one needs to launch a career as a professional footballer.
Is Formal Education Necessary
Most professional fields, such as art education, require their practitioners to pass through an educational program at higher institutions. However, being a sport, there is no formal educational qualification expected of professional soccer players.
Footballers are encouraged to have at least a basic level of education, mainly to help them transition to other job roles after their retirement. After hanging up their boots, many footballers go on to take administrative, coaching, or technical jobs for teams. In these roles, having an education is sure to prove beneficial. Education also improves players’ abilities to understand technical coaching instructions.
Moreover, most footballers learn international languages to enable them to fit in seamlessly if they ever get to play abroad. The biggest soccer clubs in Europe attract players and coaches from a variety of lingual backgrounds from around the world, and being able to speak more than one international language increases a player’s capability to get along with them. Knowledge of English, French, and Spanish, being the most popular international languages, is usually recommended for young players.
Soccer Academies and Youth Teams
Soccer academies are designed to provide soccer education to young people who intend to start careers as professional footballers. Many clubs have academies that serve as their feeder teams, helping raise players who are trained in the club’s values and playing philosophy. Young people can join academies from the age of eight and play there until they are old enough to sign their first professional contract at eighteen.
Soccer academies typically have normal academic programs in subjects such as science and mathematics, which they offer in combination with soccer training. Some of these academies have residential facilities in which young players can live while they learn. Academy players are segmented into various age groups and are given various training styles and development objectives according to their age grade.
Scouts select the best of these young players and recommend them for promotion to the senior team. However, only a few players eventually make it to the professional level.
Strategic and Tactical Training
“Soccer is 80% brainwork and 20% footwork”. So goes a popular soccer saying. Although soccer is a physical sport, the ability to understand and interpret game plans and coaching instructions is a vital requirement for soccer players today.
Indeed, the best players in modern soccer receive training on the tactical side of the game from very young ages and bring this knowledge to bear on the field of play. Aspects of this training include the following:
- Decision-making: In match situations, soccer players sometimes need to make key decisions within split seconds. Young players are taught how to carefully evaluate their situation on the pitch in every given situation and make the best decision.
- Tactical Training: Young players are taught about the various soccer formations for attacking and defensive strategies, pitch positions and set plays.
- Positional Training: There are special skill sets that are required for every specific position on the pitch. For example, strikers have to master the art of positioning to beat offside traps, and midfielders learn how to manage the tempo of a game.
Physical Training and Education
Soccer requires a high level of physical fitness, and young players are trained to develop the physical strength and agility needed for the sport. Here are some forms of physical training that young players commonly undergo:
To enhance endurance and stamina, young footballers participate in a range of conditioning exercises. These exercises encompass activities like running, interval training, and shuttle runs. By engaging in these workouts, players improve their cardiovascular fitness, enabling them to perform optimally throughout matches by efficiently distributing oxygen to their muscles and sustaining high levels of energy.
Speed and Flexibility Training
Flexibility and mobility training play a pivotal role in young footballers’ routines, aiming to enhance their range of motion while mitigating the risk of injuries. Through the incorporation of stretching routines, dynamic warm-up exercises, and mobility drills, players actively maintain the flexibility of their muscles and joints.
Coordination and Balance
Footballers are trained to develop strong body control and balance. Some exercises used for this are cone drills, ladder work, and balance board training.
Others include the following:
- Plyometric training
- Strength-building exercises
- Core stability training
Many of the game’s current biggest names grew up patterning their play after older soccer legends. For example, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has shared how he benefited from watching clips of Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, who played in the same position.
You can look up highlights of famous players who played in your intended position and try to imitate some of their skills, techniques, and patterns of play.
If you can, get in contact with and speak to senior or retired soccer players. The pieces of advice and encouragement you will receive from them can prove invaluable to your career. Here’s how young soccer players can benefit from mentorship from senior players:
- Psychological Support: Senior players can share stories of how they handled their own unique struggles. Young players can learn from this experience and receive a confidence boost.
- Adaptation: Football is a game that is constantly evolving. Senior players have witnessed several changes in the game’s rules and tactics and can teach young players how to adapt.
For intending footballers who want to get academic degrees while pursuing an educational career, a sports scholarship is the perfect option.
Young people can get sports scholarships that allow them to pursue College degrees while playing as collegiate-level footballers, representing their colleges in various tournaments. They can benefit from these scholarships in several ways:
- Financial support: Costs such as accommodation, feeding, tuition, and other costs can be borne by the scholarship.
- Networking and Exposure: Young players get to rub shoulders with highly qualified trainers, coaches, and players who may help them advance their future professional careers.
- Access to high-quality education.
Many young people today dream of imitating their favorite soccer stars by launching their own careers as professional soccer players. While there are no academic requirements for this, many footballers choose to get some education, at least to a basic level. Moreover, there are several training programs that soccer players are expected to undergo to get grounded in the game.
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