The chance to get a paid internship with Adidas, a coding apprenticeship with Football Manager or a scholarship to universities in America. These were just some of the opportunities available to young people at the annual Hackney Marshes Football Symposium and Showcase.
Held between 8-12 April at Hackney Marshes, the home of grassroots football, and attended by 300 young women and men, the week long event showed the breadth of opportunity in the football and sports industry off the pitch.
The event is now in its third year and this year the football showcase included 7 female and 12 male teams. As well as opportunities to network, attendees were also treated to free giveaways from the Adidas Glitch football range, a casting session with Sports on Screen, a launch event and tech session with scouting app Tonser, the chance to take part in peer-to-peer mental health support training with the Professional Football Association and the chance to apply for a range of paid internships and apprenticeships.
From journalism to boot design, young people took part in a series of career workshops, roundtables and discussion panels to find out about the football industry and all the different professions it supports.
Benny Bonsu, an award-winning global Sports Broadcaster and Head of Women’s Sport at news agency Give Me Sport, chaired a ‘careers in football’ panel, she spoke about the importance of volunteering, in your community and at local clubs, saying: “Volunteering for sports really shows your passion and enthusiasm to your employer, I volunteered for ten years as a coach at Tottenham, you will come to an interview and everyone will have qualifications, but coming with both volunteering and qualifications will set you above everyone else, it will show your commitment and passion for football and give you an edge.”
After the sessions the young people aged between 16-19 took part in a series of showcase games. Here scouts from across Europe and North America watched on to spot any talented individuals who could apply for a scholarship.
Alongside sporting scouts, Sports on Screen modelling agency was also there picking out future talent to appear in big sporting advertising campaigns like their most recent ad for Nike; ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’.
Kobi Coker, 20 from Stoke Newington, who was scouted at last year’s event and is now studying at Broward College in Florida, said: “The Hackney Marshes Football Symposium and Showcase is a great way for any player interested in getting connected and clued up with the world of football. What I like is that the focus of attention doesn’t have to be on your performance level it’s just a case of if you have a desire and a love of football then there are a number of opportunities that you can access on and off the pitch to succeed in football as I am doing.”
The event was organised and funded by Hackney Council with support from Adidas, Tonser, Football Manager, Sports On Screen, Give Me Sports and panel guests Professional Football Association, Tongue Tied Media, BCOMS, Give Me Sport, Kick It Out, Leon Constantine Academy, Darren Lewis and Ernest Simons.
To get involved in the event for 2020, youth football groups should contact: email@example.com.