We caught up with two of Grace Academy’s talented Year 7 footballers, James Richardson and Charlie Morgan, to find out how their journey to excel in the sport first started.

Charlie Morgan, who plays in a defence position and trains for two hours on Monday and Wednesday, and leaves school early to train from 2pm until 8pm on Friday, said:

“You need to be well-behaved and keep up with school work in order to be allowed to leave early on a Friday to train! I started playing football at the early age of five or six, and my first football club was Athletic United where I played with James Richardson who lived near to me. I moved to Walsall Football Club at the age of 9, turning 10, and I now play for Coventry City Football Club’s Academy Football team. In Academy Football you play against premier league teams such as Arsenal or Manchester United. Coventry City’s biggest rival is Aston Villa.”

Explaining how young footballers get picked for clubs like Coventry City, Charlie added:

“You go on trial for 6 weeks and they then decide if they want to keep you on. If they do decide to keep you on, it means they have plans for you in the season. If not, they will let you go. You are constantly being assessed and, if you have played against Academy teams from other clubs and they think you are good, then one of the other clubs might poach you. How much you are worth on transfer will depend on how long you have been at a club.”

James Richardson scored around 15 goals for his team this season and he is their top goal scorer. James said:

“If you want to be a professional footballer, the club will decide when you are 16 years old whether they would like to keep you. The First Team manager will watch the players and you may get spotted by the Head coach for the First Team from the age of 16 upwards.”

Sharing some key characteristics that you might need to be a great footballer, James added:

“Footballers need good concentration, to be modest and not too arrogant because, if you are over-confident, you will make mistakes. You need to respect the coaches and the opposition so that, after a game, you can shake hands with the opposition and say, ‘well-played’. You also have to be quite fit to play on small and larger pitches. You have to have the right mindset to have banter with your mates, but also not lose your friendships, because otherwise you might not pass to certain team mates on the field.

“I’ve grown up doing this and it is my passion. I enjoy celebrating scoring goals, and spending time with my other football mates. My family regularly comes to watch me play.”