NewsAcademy column: Foundation phase - a great success at parent and player educational events

By Caitlin Hawkins and Ted Smith


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In our latest Academy column, education manager Caitlin Hawkins and U18s education officer Ted Smith tell us about the recent ‘Celebration of Heritage’ festival and the importance of it for the young players.

For all of our young players education is of primary importance and just as important as the football, so it’s important that we continue to evolve and give the boys the very best opportunities we can provide for them for their future.

We had two important events recently and both were a great success for the Academy.

On Saturday November 18 we were delighted to host second annual ‘Celebration of Heritage’ festival with our foundation phase (U9, U10 and U11) players at the Academy.

The tournament featured teams named after a variety of nations from across the world which represent the multitude of family heritages within our Academy.

This is the second year we have used a multiple age group tournament as a vehicle to celebrate the diversity of nationalities and ethnicities amongst our players and their families.

However, this year the tournament has grown and developed after taking inspiration from the recent ‘World In One City’ football tournament which took place at Jericho Lane, South Liverpool, earlier this year.

This multi-nation tournament was the brainchild of local football fan Imad Ali, and we would like to express our thanks to him for meeting with us to discuss his tournament and assisting us in recreating the concept in Kirkby.

On the day, we had 10 teams ranging from Italy, Liberia, England, Barbados and Mozambique through to Ghana, Ireland, Nigeria, Jamaica and Malta. The teams battled it out in an incredibly competitive tournament which culminated in an Ireland versus England final.

The games throughout the day were of the highest standard, as would be expected from our talented Academy players, and the final between Ireland and England was a showcase of amazingly gifted players competing to win the ‘World In One Academy’ trophy.

In the end, Ireland came out on top after a hard-fought game and players of all 10 teams represented the Academy and their representative nations impeccably.

It was fantastic for us, as an Academy, to use our shared love and passion for football between players, parents and staff as a means to take vital learnings about the plethora of nationalities, cultures, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds we have within our Academy on a daily basis.

We are so lucky to operate in an environment that brings all these creeds and cultural ideologies together, week after week and season after season, to strive towards producing not only elite-level footballers but, through educational opportunities like this, well-rounded, informed and educated individuals able to make valuable contributions to any environment they occupy.

Liverpool is one of the biggest, most recognisable football clubs across the globe and through ventures such as this tournament we can equip our players with the knowledge and open mindset to navigate the modern game.

In celebration of all nationalities on display, as a special treat our players and parents enjoyed a fantastic lunch courtesy of a selection of regional dishes from each of the represented nations. These dishes included a range of main courses, sides and desserts from across the globe.

Amongst these offerings was the renowned jollof rice, with our Ghanaian and Nigerian players and parents as competitive as ever around which nation lays claim to the best recipe!

However, all were in agreement that they can make it better themselves, so that means big pressure for our catering staff for next year.

With regards to the catering, a huge thanks goes out to the staff involved for providing the eclectic mix of dishes for such large numbers. The sharing of national dishes was yet another example of us all coming together and was a fitting way to end such an amazing event.

Our foundation phase lead coach, John Thompson, spoke with a lot of warmth about the event and commented: “It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of this tournament and the big takeaway for me was the feel of community amongst all involved.

“This extends to our staff as well, who worked tirelessly as a multi-disciplinary team to ensure the smooth running of the day.

“Liverpool, as a city, has always been a welcoming and hospitable place for everyone and it fills me with pride to see our Academy taking responsibility to ensure this sentiment is echoed within the football club.”

Mental health and wellbeing

Over the course of the year we do the parent and player education programme, and one of our events was for mental health and wellbeing. We held this at the Academy with our U9, U10 and U11 group.

It was a really positive experience for both players and parents as they got to do something different.

We set up the Ian Frodsham Indoor Arena with different activities that would really test and challenge the boys to recognise the fact that you can’t do things alone and it’s more than OK to ask for help, and send out the message that we need each other to be successful.

The different activities were planned to ensure that they felt and experienced the difficulties of just wanting to do things by yourself and be successful.

For the first time we invited LU, who are a specialist company who deal with interactive technology, so we had a variety of different games projected onto the indoor walls, so it was very challenging and quite different for the boys.

We wanted to create an environment where the boys could actually step away from football. They were actually having a match after our event so we were very aware of the fact that the boys needed an element of fun.

The event was led by our performance psychologist, Yvie Ryan, and she was really pleased with the event and she also led the parents session.

We would like to say a big thank you to the multi-disciplinary teams for ensuring these events ran smoothly and it’s fantastic to see different departments coming together.

Caitlin Hawkins and Ted Smith were speaking to's Steve Hunter



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This article has been automatically translated and, while all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, some errors in translation are possible. Please refer to the original English-language version of the article for the official version.