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Enhancing football apprenticeship programmes via EU co-operation
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Burnley FC's mobility took place between 25 July and 7 August 2015 when 18 apprentices and 5 accompanying staff travelled to Obertraun National Sports Centre in Austria to our host partner organisation. The mobility programme was effectively planned, organised, monitored and evaluated by a team of personnel at Burnley FC Academy to ensure that the key learning outcomes as detailed in the application and the work plans were achieved. These key personnel included the:- Academy Manager, Head of Education & Welfare, Professional Development Phase Lead Coach, Head of Sports Medicine, Head of Sports Science, Head of Talent ID & Recruitment and Operations Manager. . The 18 participants selected were aged between 16-18 years old and were those undertaking the 2 year AASE apprenticeship programme with Burnley FC who therefore satisfied the Erasmus+ eligibility criteria as they were enrolled on a relevant vocational education and training programme which their inclusion on this European mobility benefited. The participants included 9 first year and 9 second year scholars. Burnley FC recognised the need to further develop the player pathway to produce top class players from the Academy structure who will have the opportunity to compete both for the first team and internationally. A key factor contributing to the development of the skills gap between English and European clubs has been a relative lack of interaction between them. Ignorance of European methodology has hindered skills acquisition among young apprentices, relative to European player development on an age-matched basis, which participation on this mobility programme has helped to address. This mobility was planned to give all participants access to world class coaching methods and high intensity training and competition within the EU covering all aspects of football, including elements of technical and tactical practices, physical strength and conditioning training, aligned to the educational aspects of eg diet & hydration, psychology of sport, match performance analysis incorporating the use of IT. The programme objectives for Burnley FC were in line with both Erasmus+ programme objectives and the Government's policy objectives which prioritised the economic, sporting and social legacy of London 2012 and Glasgow 2014. Objectives focused on new skills acquisition, improving learners technical and tactical development, thereby enhancing employment opportunities; as well as broadening the participants social, linguistic and cultural skills and European awareness. A key objective for participants was that they would benefit from upskilling and improved employability and so Burnley FC will continue to track participants' employment history for a period of three years updated annually, following the mobility in order to establish key data and trends regarding the direct correlation between a successful European mobility and improved employability. In addition Burnley FC team's performance will similarly be measured annually for a period of 3 years following the mobility. Various evaluation methods were used to ascertain whether the objectives of the mobility were met and key to this process were the reports from participants which bench-marked what learning objectives had been achieved and these were compared and contrasted against the participants' intended outcomes prior to the commencement of the mobility utilising questionnaires submitted then. The Project Manager who was also the Academy Director was instrumental to the evaluation process because knowing the scholars personally and being on the mobility, he was able to provide a balanced judgement in relation to individual benefits and enhanced learning for each participant. Tables were prepared to analyse the relative % success rates against each specific outcome which proved that the mobility was very successful. In addition all feedback from the participants, partners and management team were collated and these will be used as the basis to improve any possible future mobility undertaken. Burnley Academy's participation in the Erasmus+ project was disseminated widely, in fact, a media representative attended the mobility for a week, to ensure that clips and footage would be available to promote the project on the website and facebook and twitter sites. Participants benefitted from formal certification resulting from the mobility and were presented with Europass Language Passports and Europass Mobility Documents on completion of the project. Burnley Academy are keen to undertake future mobility programmes to further enhance the AASE scholarship programme at Burnley FC and are grateful to Erasmus+ for their support in this project.
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