In partnership with Buxton Football Club (BFC), Buxton & Leek College offers Level 2 and Level 3 sport programmes as a part of the Buxton Football Club Academy. The Academy allows students to study for formal qualifications whilst pursuing a career in the sport that they love.
Check out this exclusive interview with BLC sport lecturer Tom Donlon and BFC coach Jake Loftus.
Can you tell us a little bit about Buxton Football Club and the academy that you run for students?
“We run Level 2 and Level 3 diplomas, in a hybrid model where students study and attend Buxton & Leek College whilst training with BFC and competing in the National Youth Alliance u19s. Our students train 4 times a week plus game days, and that’s included in their education programme along with maths and English for those that need it.”
What’s the value of being a part of a Football Club Academy?
“They get to work with elite staff like Jake who’s qualified to a really high level and working with the students on the grass every single day, and likewise they have that balance between the practical side of things and also the classroom-based stuff. Educationally, we help to develop that second skillset, confidence, resilience, communication skills, and teamwork, and those skills are built in across the programme through everything that we do both on and off the pitch. They also get to represent the Academy at events like BLC Fest, and offsite at places like St George’s Park. We boost our students by including media responsibility training within the programmes, and encouraging them to create podcasts and social media content for the Academy, so they’re involved in all aspects of the game and getting a holistic approach to their education.”
What sort of atmosphere is there on the programme and within the team?
“A one club ethos is at the heart of everything we do, and it sees the first team and the elite side of things running alongside the Academy, the students definitely feel the benefits of that throughout their time with us. We have our own classroom, gym, and grass pitch onsite, so we’ve created a hub for our students’ education which is certainly in line with the level of ambition we’ve got within the team. Our students are constantly building bonds with their colleagues, classmates, teammates, and the staff through the time they spend together and the activities they complete.
“We have a tight-knit feel within the club, created by our smaller class sizes, which allow us to provide our students with a higher level of detailed care and performance analysis in comparison to other programmes – not to mention access and pipelines to our first teams too. We have ex-players come through to speak to our students and run training sessions with them, so the buzz and love for the sport is always apparent within the team.
How is the Academy beneficial for students’ career progression?
“One of our students played in the FA Cup first round, which is an incredible achievement both for him and the programme, but our programmes make sure that our students have a variety of different options once they’ve finished studying with us. 50% of our current students are heading to university to study sport-related degrees. Our Team is all on one site, so no matter the direction the students want to go in, be that physio, coaching or analysis, we’re able to organise and tailor opportunities for those individuals quickly and efficiently – we’re really there to support them whatever their ambitions.
“BFC is as much about the transferable skills that our students build as it is about the game, and ultimately we’re always thinking about how we can make our programmes better for our students both on and off the pitch.”
BLC also managed to catch up with two of Buxton Football Club Academy’s top players, Coby Jones and Connor Brady, click here to find out what they said.
Click here to find out more about Football Academies at BLC.