First of all, if a player is from outside the EU, then unless a parent/ legal guardian is living in the U.K. on a valid work visa, then private school or Universities (when older) are the only options.
Traditionally this creates a problem for serious football development as the best U.K. boarding schools have, in the vast majority of cases, not played football as a major sport. The good news is that with the incredible rise of the Premier League and indeed the English football pyramid, more and more top private schools have become football focused as the demand for football programs has increased.
When looking for the best U.K. football schools, we decided to research (and if you aren’t using the U.K. football school’s free advice service we suggest you do too!) the following:
- Quality of coaching- what qualifications does the Head coach and support coaches have? In our experience, if you get a UEFA A license coach the quality of coaching will usually be very good. If support coaches are also highly qualified, it is likely your child will be getting a standard of coaching which will help develop their game.
- Quantity of coaching/matches- how often does training take place and how many matches are played? You need a decent number of coaching hours per week and a full fixture list as players do massive amounts of learning while actually playing matches. Beware ‘1 term’ football private schools- having long periods of time away from football coaching and matches WILL hinder development.
- Facilities- look to see the best U.K. boarding schools training and match facilities. Pitches don’t need to be perfect but be sure to ask about drainage and availability of 3G pitches as the weather can wreak havoc if there are poor draining grass pitches only. Furthermore- ensure that there are decent football pitches as some of the best U.K. boarding schools have beautiful pitches on display but they are reserved for rugby, cricket and hockey!
- Support services- at pro soccer academies, players will get specific strength and conditioning training, video analysis sessions and nutritional/ recovery info also. Serious U.K. football private schools should have the same systems in place.
The above are a few considerations amongst many others- remember we are always happy to advise and assist!