Academy graduates go back to college

Dan Potts and Rob Hall returned to the classroom to meet a group of aspiring youngsters looking to build a career in sport.

The pair answered questions about their careers and lifestyles posed by students working towards a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport or BTEC National Certificate in Sport at Havering College of Higher and Further Education in Harold Hill.

Joined by Head of Academy Education Paul Tighe, the duo discussed everything from their training schedules to nutritional plans to the sacrifices they have had to make to get to the top of their profession.

The 25-strong class was made up of teenagers who are both talented sportsmen and women in their own right, but are seeking to follow a career in sport off the pitch.

Students are taught a range of core subjects including Health and Safety in Sport, Training and Fitness for Sport, Sports Nutrition, Psychology for Sports Performance, Technical and Tactical Skills in Sport, Sports Coaching, Sports Injuries and Rules, Regulations and Officiating in Sport.

The visit of young professionals Potts and Hall formed part of the Athlete's Lifestyle module, where students find out more about what professional athletes have to do to reach the elite level.

After a half-hour question and answer session, the pair headed out on to the college playing field to meet a group of aspiring young footballers from the Romford Football Academy.

The footballers split their time between training and playing for Ryman League Division One North Romford FC and studying for their own BTEC National Certificate in Sport.

Rob Hall

Romford midfielder and West Ham fan Sean Bush said the visit of Potts and Hall had shown him and his fellow students what could be achieved if they take the right approach to their own lives.

"We come to college on Mondays and Tuesdays and train for three hours in the morning before going into the classroom in the afternoons," said the 17-year-old, who watches the first team home and away and sells fanzine 'Over Land and Sea' outside the Boleyn Ground on matchdays.

"We play matches against other Academies on Wednesdays and then train and study the rest of the week before playing for Romford on Saturdays.

"I hoped to become a professional footballer but I think it's too late for me now, so I'm planning to do the next best thing and play semi-professional football and become a coach.

"It's a great inspiration for all of us for Dan and Rob to come in because we can look at them and see what they have achieved. It's even better to see players like them because they have come through the ranks and worked their way up."

Lecturer Stacy Birchall said she and her students were grateful for the visit of two Hammers home-grown stars.

"The students from the Romford Academy and those on our Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport course were really excited to have the opportunity to quiz the players," she said.

"They are all studying towards becoming coaches, sports scientists and sports psychologists and we thought it was a great idea for them to actually hear from professional athletes as part of their Athlete's Lifestyle module. It is inspiring for them, too.

"We have a lot of West Ham supporters at the college and they are normally a rowdy bunch, but they seem happy with how things are going at the moment!"

Moore Than a Football Club