It isn’t just within the football club that aspiring young hopefuls can progress through the ranks at Wolverhampton Wanderers FC to pursue their chosen career path.
Projects run by Wolves Foundation, in conjunction with Telford College, offer participants the chance to create and follow their own journey towards working in many different areas in the sport.
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“I started with Wolves when I was seven or eight years of age and now I’m 16 doing a BTEC. So in a way it does kind of change your life because it’s made me progress within football and made me love the game more.”
Those are the words of Will Bradburn, who is now studying with the Foundation on the BTEC in Sport which is run in conjunction with Wolves at Telford College.
The BTEC Sport course, available at level two and three, offers routes into higher education, apprenticeships, scholarships and job roles in sport.
For Will, it is the next chapter in a story which began all those years ago.
“I was at primary school, in year three or four, and the Foundation used to come in and do sessions with us,” he recalls. “And it really brought me confidence and helped me as a footballer.
“I played some Sunday League football before but nothing to a high level, and, these sessions just helped me in a different way and got me more involved and brought my confidence out.
“I went to Cubs Club and Soccer Schools, also with the Foundation, which again made me a better player, and I improved my confidence even further.
“I think I was about 10 or 11 when I started with the Advanced Centre, which was a new kind of pathway in football. And it just taught me a lot of things that I use in my own game now.
“I went into high school thinking I’ve always wanted to do something with sport, and I did the BTEC there, which obviously I passed and I did well, and I enjoyed it.
“So it kind of led me on to this doing this course and it’s just something that I love every day.”
The BTEC course features various components including practical and theoretical workshops at both Molineux and the Compton Park training ground.
There is also training and regular fixtures against other professional clubs such as Aston Villa and Manchester City within the EFL Community & Education Football Alliance League.
“We find that the pull of the club with both our BTEC and also our degree programme proves vital,” says Jonny Warburton, Education & Skills Manager with the Foundation.
“It is not just the course that appeals to students but also the fact that they are embedded within the football club and what the Foundation delivers, leading to vast opportunities.
“Within the elements of the BTEC programme, students get the opportunity to represent Wolves in playing against other professional clubs, as well meeting some of the Wolves’ first team players, and seeing both Molineux and the Compton training ground.”
“It’s a wicked feeling,” Will says of that particular element of the course, with training and matches having taken place within Covid guidelines prior to the current lockdown which has currently stopped play.
“The teams that I play against in an EFL league, it’s at a high level.
“And being able to actually experience it and play, it’s just a class feeling – we’ve played against teams like Aston Villa and Sheffield United, some big clubs.
“I’m obviously a big fan of Wolves, I’ve supported them the whole of my life and it’s like a dream.
“It’s improved me as a player, not through just football. They’ve built my confidence as well, also from being with all those on the course, who are just a class bunch of lads.”
Regular trials are held for potential students who are interested in applying for the BTEC, where they can find out more about the course and also demonstrate their footballing prowess, although it is open to all abilities.
Current Covid restrictions mean the next trials have had to be postponed, although as the course delivery adapts, plans are in place for current students to enjoy a virtual audience with a current Wolves player.
As for Will and his future, he is very excited about the challenges ahead as he continues his journey with Wolves Foundation.
“I’m obviously looking to do something with sport and even better if it’s football,” he says. “So that’s what I want to do, something that I enjoy every day.
“This course is going to get me a career in football, and take me to the next level.
“The Wolves coaches have really helped me along my journey, from when I was younger to now, and they’ve improved me as a player and person.
“Wolves has created a lot of opportunities for me, and I’m looking forward to the next part of my journey.”
For more information about the Wolves courses which are offered at Telford College, see www.telfordcollege.ac.uk/courses/full-time/sports