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Enriching the Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence Programme
Start date: Jul 1, 2014, End date: Jun 30, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

In the 2012/2013 season the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) was agreed and introduced to the Premier League and Football League. This plan sets out 10 key development areas for Clubs to deliver against: 1. Vision and Strategy 2. Leadership and Management 3. Coaching 4. Education and Welfare 5. Games Programme 6. Sport Science and Medicine 7. Player Development and Progression 8. Talent Identification and Recruitment 9. Facilities 10. Financial Sustainability Clubs must provide evidence to an independent auditor that in each key development area they are delivering a high quality and consistent programme of player development across three identified development phases: 1. Foundation (Under-9 to Under-11) 2. Youth Development (U12 to U16) 3. Professional Development (U17 to U21). This project focuses on the PROFESSIONAL Development phase, and in particular the 16-18 year old (male) Apprentices and primarily seeks to enhance PLAYER DEVELOPMENT AND PROGRESSION through European input around best practices, as well as extend the GAMES PROGRAMME to encompass non UK styles and approaches. Supplementary to this focus was an aim to learn from other European Clubs/Governing bodies in order to improve on a number of the other key development areas including VISION, COACHING, SPORT SCIENCE AND MEDICINE, and FACILITIES. This group of players undertake the Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (ASE) programme, a recognised government funded vocational qualification which is delivered and managed by Carlisle United FC (CUFC) in conjunction with League Football Education (LFE). LFE's research shows that of all ASE learners (1300 at any one time across the country) approximately 60% of players don't receive a professional contract upon completion of the ASE programme. Also, of the 40% that do gain a professional contract, 50% of those do not receive a second contract. This means that of the original cohort 80% are not in professional football a year after completing the programme. There is also an ever increasing influx of foreign players moving to the English Leagues with minimal movement in the other direction. There are consistently poor performances by the National Side in international competitions, especially when compared to investment levels in training. Finally, the issue of senior players coming out of the game and needing to retrain (our current coaching staff being good examples) needs to be further recognised and supported. This led to the following participant specific aims for the project: 1. To achieve both quantitative and qualitative improvements in the development of the participants as footballers 2. To improve the knowledge and understanding of Lifelong Learning principles within Apprentices 3. To improve the knowledge and understanding of the European opportunities in football and other careers 4. To deliver a high quality social and cultural programme including exposure to the language within the host country 5. To ascertain if participants are more willing to travel to Europe to take advantage of the opportunities as a result of the trip In order to address these aims and provide added value to the participants, CUFC delivered a two week pre-season training and games programme in The Netherlands hosted by professional Dutch side NAC Breda. In total 18 participants and 4 accompanying staff benefited from this experience. We have seen the acquisition of new knowledge and skills by the participants as footballers. New training techniques and philosophies have been brought into our own programme. There is greater openness to migration into Europe from our participants, better engagement between ourselves and clubs across Europe as well as huge personal development in positive behaviour and attitude acquisition of our apprentices.

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