COMMENT: Why you don’t need to be the next Mbappé or Ronaldo to build a successful career in sport

Posted on: 20th Nov 2023

Neville Algar, Head of Education at Ignite Training, discusses how the professional sports industry has shifted to offer an array of career opportunities both on and off the pitch

The current professional sports landscape has never been so competitive, with standards expected of potential players demanding more than ever before.

To take football as an example, of the 6,000 players across 250 professional and semi-professional UK club academies, less than 1% are expected to ever win a professional contract.

Consistently staying in top physical form and playing to the best of your ability can be elusive for some of the most talented youngsters.

Obstacles such as illness, injury or any number of life events can arise as you make your first steps in building your career, putting an end to the dream of becoming the next Mbappé or Ronaldo in your chosen sport.

Personal experience tells me what it’s like, as a youngster, after years of hard work and discipline through school, county and even national level, to fall short and not quite make the grade.

When the end of season comes round and decisions are made about the future, even the most experienced and articulate managers and coaches find themselves delivering heartbreaking news to their academy players.

Yet, there is a silver lining for those who want to forge a career in sports – even if they don’t end up playing on the pitch.

The scenario described above is better understood in the modern world, and the industry has learnt that it is necessary to offer a ‘Plan B’ for talented, enthusiastic people whose passion lies in sport.

In this hyper-competitive environment, club management and coaches are dedicating more resources and creating new strategies and job roles to win and retain the very best talent.

While there has always been a need for doctors, physios, and managers, the modern sports industry has evolved to offer so many new and exciting opportunities.

The development side of the professional sports industry has become more well-rounded and sophisticated in its offering, with a greatly expanded focus on community engagement, education and professional development.

At Ignite Training, we have led the way by partnering with professional sports organisations and big-name clubs including Queen’s Park Rangers and Birmingham City FC.

We are proud of the extensive portfolio of quality apprenticeships we’ve developed, which provide learners with a wealth of options to forge their own path within the sports industry.

That means delivering education provisions which aren’t limited to roles exclusive to the on-field responsibilities in the elite game and at grassroots level. Today, we’re teaching qualifications in content creation, management and leadership and teaching to name a few ranging from Level 2 right up to Level 5.

While very few of us will fulfil the dream of making it as top-flight sporting professional, anyone with a love of sport and the right mindset, determination and focus can keep their dream alive by kickstarting their career in the sports industry with Ignite Training.

And similarly, employees can prioritise player welfare by building a fit workforce for the future via apprenticeships which can help individuals already committed to the club badge in reaching their true potential in an area that interests them.

Neville Algar, Head of Education, Ignite Training

About Ignite Training

Established in 1999, Ignite’s primary aim is to actively inspire people, and to help create a sense of achievement for everyone. Based in Oxford and operating nationally, we provide a portfolio of training and services to individuals, schools and the sports industry, ranging from weekly clubs for tots to adult courses and apprenticeships.

About Ignite Training