Shoot to score: BFI and London Film Academy team up with the Professional Footballer’s Association

Joint training initiative helps upskill youth players from FA teams.

Filming on London’s Southbank as part of a joint training initiative with the Professional Footballer's Association

It’s estimated by BBC Sport that of the 1.5 million players who are playing organised youth football in England at any one time, around 180 will make it as a Premier League professional. More than three-quarters of academy players are dropped between the ages of 13 and 16.

Taking a lead from sports consultant Nyall Simms whose research and focus covers race, identity and mental wellbeing, and his research into career transition for footballers at professional academies, we delivered film and media skills training for Millwall F.C. and Watford F.C. youth teams on behalf of the Professional Footballer’s Association.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Simms said: “In a society where some people of colour believe they have to work twice as hard as their white counterparts to be equal, having minimal qualifications when leaving an academy can leave the player disillusioned.” He went on to say that if it’s discovered they are talented, they can be pigeon-holed into physical education.

The pressure and uncertainty of success has led to mental health challenges for young players. Speaking to ESPN Nick Cox, head of Manchester United’s academy says their goal isn’t just to produce top level footballers but to set young people up for life – whether in or outside of the game.

Working with the London Film Academy and in partnership with Simms Consultancy, our courses were designed to provide training pathways and professional development opportunities for young players beyond playing their sport.

As reported in iNews, the UK film industry is booming and it’s in desperate need of crew, but an understanding of the moving image and ability to produce content is now relevant across a number of industries and careers as digital technologies become deeply embedded across our schools, work, home and leisure time.

We used to be a cottage industry, but now we’re on a par with manufacturing. In terms of studio real estate, we’re currently bigger than Hollywood.Ben Roberts (BFI), iNews

In addition to learning about opportunities in film and TV, the training focused on developing these highly transferable digital filmmaking skills to help players regardless of their continued success as young sporting professionals. Their experience could be used to enhance UCAS applications, access further media training and provide CPD credits.

To find out more about our training for sports professionals, please contact