On Wednesday 23rd September a group of enthusiastic Vi-Ability BTEC students had the exciting opportunity to travel to Portugal on work placement to one of the best football clubs in the world, S.L. Benfica. Ten students from a unique Vi-Ability programme delivered in partnership with West Ham United Foundation spent two weeks learning how such a club operates on a daily basis.
Upon arrival in Lisbon, the group were in great form and nothing less than ecstatic to begin their journey and embrace every opportunity offered to them throughout the two weeks ahead. All had been informed that tasks anticipated to be undertaken while on work placement would include operations of day to day business at the football club, while spending time at Caixa Futebol Campus (the academy) observing sessions involving elite players selected to represent S.L. Benfica aged from Under 12’s to Under 19’s. Having participants on board particularly interested in coaching and developing their coaching skills to put in to practice once returning to the UK, this was a fantastic opportunity for participants to learn from the best, from experienced coaches at such a high level.
One participant particularly interested in coaching and developing his coaching knowledge was John, observing the sessions on a daily basis benefited the participants beyond belief.
“This is amazing, their sessions are so good and so structured, I’m definitely going to use these drills when I go home. I’m literally having the time of my life here at Benfica”
For those not so driven by coaching opportunities, other activities during the duration of the work placement included interactive labs with the clubs Psychologists, nutritionists, soccer schools managers, game model coaches, scouting directors, head of international departments, operations co-ordinators, game analysis experts and coaches throughout all programmes and teams running from both the academy and soccer schools at the club.
The group were extremely excited and somewhat overwhelmed when given the opportunity to tour the stadium, experience a press room interview and have a feel for how the club operates and what the players and media staff experience both on game day and during marketing events at the club.
They were lucky enough to have an insight on how the club operates as a business and gather an in depth outlook on how the club runs on match day when visiting the stadium as fans with seats three rows from the front. This was a fantastic opportunity for the learners to put in to practice aspects of the course they had learned while on the Vi-Ability football Industries programme as they experienced methods of which the club generate revenue on match days in particular.
With top class facilities and undoubtedly top draw coaches, it was much to the groups delight that they got to spend an entire day watching the youth cup games which of course, was nothing short of an excellent standard. This was an opportunity for all watching to gather an understanding of the importance of community engagement as well as developing youth players in order to generate revenue for the club in the future by selling excellent talent.
In summary of the trip, participant Perry Brown, a participant at WHU foundation course added:
“This has been an experience of a lifetime, I’d never even got on an aeroplane before, never mind to a beautiful country to one of the best clubs in the world with a smashing atmosphere. It truly has changed my life, I have loved every second of it”.
Angela , a learner from our SMP project and current Crystal Palace LFC midfielder also added:
“This has been a mind blowing experience that I’ve been so excited and happy to be a part of. It’s not only opened doors, it’s opened my mind to opportunities that I should be taking advantage of. Thank you Vi-Ability” Angela, aged 24
Both Angela and Perry have been provided the opportunity to join the Vi-Ability team as apprentices on delivering the programmes that they have recently been on a journey through. This is an extremely exciting time for both the learners and Vi-Ability as we develop young individuals and help them chase their dream.
Watch what the group have been up to here...