Trent Alexander-Arnold is launching The After Academy, a new initiative which will provide career opportunities for those who didn’t make it as professional players. The PFA are on board as the supporting partner, overseeing the activation of the platform and ensuring the roles get to the right people.
Trent’s club, Liverpool FC, and partners Red Bull, Under Armour and Therabody, have all committed support to the programme.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is today announcing The After Academy, an initiative that will provide career opportunities for former academy players who wish to forge a new career path outside of professional football.
Trent is an academy success story, but he is the exception to the rule, with over 99% of those who sign for an academy aged 9 not making it as a professional footballer. Widely cited research showed that, even of those who make it into the elite scholarship programme at 16, five out of six are not playing professional football at 21. These players, who have spent their formative years with football as their main ambition, have often made sacrifices that have impacted their education and other career pathways.
Trent credits his career to his years at an academy, having grown through the ranks of the Liverpool FC Academy before breaking into the first team and winning the Premier League, Champions League and The FA Cup for his childhood club. However, his time at the Academy showed him the other side of the system too, seeing first-hand the affect that being released can have on those who don’t make it.
Last year, Trent posted on social media asking for accounts from released former academy players about how their experience had affected them. Many of those who shared their experiences with Trent felt their time in a football academy had negatively affected their education, career prospects and/or mental health, issues that Trent had witnessed first-hand through his peers growing up.
There are many organisations working in the UK today to tackle some of these issues including the PFA, Premier League and The FA, who provide support with education and wellbeing, but through The After Academy, Trent hopes to provide a new way of thinking about post-academy career pathways. The programme will focus on the issue of career prospects by providing options for a new path for those players who don’t make it as a professional footballer, allowing them to utilise their transferable skills developed in the academy.
Trent’s club, Liverpool FC, are leading the push for continued improvements in the academy system, with their alumni project ensuring ongoing support for former players. As a key supporter of the initiative, Liverpool FC will work with The After Academy through its alumni programme. Trent is also working with his partners, including Red Bull, Under Armour and Therabody, to offer opportunities as part of The After Academy initiative including jobs, work placements and internships across various departments.
The PFA will join The After Academy as a supporting partner. As a body that regularly works to support former academy players, the PFA will not only ensure these opportunities get in front of the right people, but are further equipped to provide education, career and wellbeing counselling for all former scholars.
Founder of The After Academy, Trent Alexander Arnold said, “I loved my time at the Liverpool Academy, it gave me everything I have today and I’m so grateful to be in the position I’m in. That feeling of lifting trophies for your childhood club is magical and I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world, but if things didn’t work out the way they did I could have been one of those being told the dream is over. I’m fortunate to not know what that conversation is like but I know from my friends and other former players how hard it hits and how tough it can be.
“I’m proud of this programme as it looks to give another chance to those who didn’t make it, and I hope it is just a first step towards a brighter future for these young players.”
Maheta Molango, CEO of the PFA said, “As the players' union, we always want to help our members use their influence and their networks to make a difference on issues that matter to them. This project from Trent is a perfect example of what can be achieved by players using their platform in a positive way.
“Pursuing a career in football brings unique challenges in terms of personal development and wellbeing. Helping players plan for their future is central to the work the PFA does. We're excited to be working with Trent and look forward to being part of his journey with The After Academy.”
Kara Trent, Under Armour’s Managing Director for EMEA said, "As a company whose ethos is to empower those who strive for more, supporting The After Academy was an easy decision for us. We believe that everyone deserves a chance to succeed, and by providing a role in our organisation for some of these former players, we hope to not only support them in their future careers, but to also benefit from the skills they will have learned during their time at an academy. We look forward to working with Trent on our shared mission to create a new path for former academy players, and hope this is just the beginning for an initiative that aims to transform lives and create a positive impact.”
The platform will go live later this year, with further information available via Trent and the PFA’s channels closer to launch.