Making Professionals:

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Geog, Politics and Sociology


Training regimes, everyday practices, and the experiences and perspectives of boys and their families in professional football academies.
Professional football is the most popular and economically
powerful sport in the world and offers the promise of fame and
riches for its most successful players. In the UK, boys as young as
8years old enter formal football club academies and undertake
intensive training regimes, although only 0.5% of the 12,500
footballers in England's academy system go on to become
professionals (FourFourTwo, 2017). The proposed project will
explore the normalisation of intensive training regimes within
professional football club academies and how these practices are
understood by child players and their families. The research aims to
give voice to the boys bound up within these schemes and explore
how the everyday practices impact them. An ethnographic
approach will enable insight into the experiences and perspectives
of child-players and their parents/guardians within the academy
system, and an exploration of the social dynamics and meanings
within academy spaces. Semi-structured interviews with 15 boys
will be conducted over 3 intervals to capture the dynamic of the
competitive season, in addition to non-participant observation
within professional football academies. Similarly, the
parents/guardians will be asked to participate in 2 semi-structured
interviews across the football season. The study will produce
impactful research by examining the normalised practices, and
possibilities of abuse and harm, through the lens of children and
their families. This will pave the way for national sports bodies to
implement policies, which recognise and prevent normalised abuse
and ensure children are empowered at every stage of development.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000762/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2538889 Studentship ES/P000762/1 01/10/2021 31/03/2025 Erin-Beth Nugent