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Steve Fletcher: The vital role parents have in the career of a young footballer

PUBLISHED: 16:33 23 August 2017

Bournemouth u 18s prepare for thier match against Northampton © The Digital South Ltd; www.thedigitalsouth.com

Bournemouth u 18s prepare for thier match against Northampton © The Digital South Ltd; www.thedigitalsouth.com

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Parents and guardians have an important supporting role to play if their child is to realise their dream career as a professional footballer

When I visit schools in my role as AFC Bournemouth club ambassador, one of the first questions I ask is ‘who would like to be a professional footballer when they’re older?’ I’d say about three quarters of the boys put up their hands and a good number of the girls do too.

Millions of children dream of a career in the sport, but the reality is that only a tiny percentage will get the opportunity. Talent alone isn’t enough to ‘make it’ in this ultra-competitive industry. Discipline and dedication is the minimum required from both the young player and their parent(s) or guardian(s) if they are to stand any chance.

For the majority of professional footballers their route into the game began at an early age. Players start to train with us from the age of six or seven, though they need to be at least nine to join a club academy. While everyone acknowledges ‘kids need to be kids’, the realities are that the standards in the sport are incredibly high. So players joining an academy need be aware of the hard work they have to put in from day one.

Any player plying their trade in the Premier League would have made sacrifices to get to where they are in their career, including staying in when their friends are going out and following a fairly ridged diet. This can be tough for youngsters but the potential rewards ahead make it all worthwhile. You only have to look to someone like Matt Worthington, who made his Premier League debut for us at Leicester on the last day of the season.

At the start of the season that dream opportunity would probably have seemed to be a million miles away for Matt. But that’s the beauty of football - you never know what’s around the corner! The likes of Matt Worthington, Baily Cargill and Sam Surridge are all examples of individuals that have earned their big chance of making their professional debuts with us through a combination of ability and application.

We have a scouting network on the look out for young, gifted players with potential. My advice to anyone with a child showing promise in the game is to encourage them. If they are fortunate enough to sign for our academy, we teach our young players about the correct kind of lifestyle to lead and we also give them a college education alongside everything we teach them from a footballing perspective.

Parents and guardians will always be a child’s main support network, and their guidance in helping a son or daughter to secure that dream career as a professional footballer is paramount. 


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