Millions of kids want to find a route to becoming a footballer. Only the lucky few make it and they do not all take the same journey.
Players that have come from non-league to the Premier League have risen rapidly in recent years, from the much publicised Jamie Vardy to the rise of stars such as Michael Antonio of West Ham and new West Brom signing Charlie Austin from Southampton. But is it better than the usual academy system? Where players come through the ranks as early as 7 years old and progress until they’re around age 16 or 18.
Non league players can be all sorts of people from different backgrounds. Whether they’ve been released by a Premier League club at an early age to never being in an academy in the first place. But is it a better system than that of a Premier League or Championship club? Well firstly, you’ll get more opportunities in first team football which is completely different to youth football in terms of the speed; strength and cardiovascular endurance required to be playing at that stage. A player may find himself going out on loan to clubs further down the leagues if they’re from a Premier League or Championship club. But consistent loans may knock their confidence and they feel as though they’ll never be able to break into their parent club’s side.
Secondly, a player will be able to take things for granted if he starts down at the bottom of the football pyramid. As he goes up in football; changing rooms will be cleaner, coaching will be done to a professional standard and jobs such as boot cleaning will be done for you. This gives a player the attitude most managers want in football and someone who will respect everyone at the club and treat them the same, from the dinner ladies to the president of the club. Compared to a player who’s had these all provided to him on a plate and doesn’t understand or consider the amount of work people behind the scenes go through so they can perform to their best. These sorts of players can have a bad impact on the dressing room and cause others to follow their path.
Finally, non-league football is full of passion which is good for any player. As it will teach young lads from the ages of 19 and 21 how to win games ugly; how to take no excuses from your teammates and how to grind out results. This is because the physical demands faced in non league are so tough and players need to match their physical skills and technical skills in order to get game time. As well as this these players are being payed less and struggling for their mortgage, with most of them working other jobs in factories and in schools to cover for them. So however well they play could determine what meals they have on the table or whether you’ll be able to pay the next gas bill. These aren’t playing for a living, they’re playing to live.
So if you ever find yourself thinking that your club such as; Liverpool, Manchester United or Chelsea are charging too much for their tickets or they’re sold out. Then it would be worth going down to your local non-league side, where you can have a great day out with your mates, prices are cheap and you get to watch a passionate game. Who knows you might end up watching the new Jamie Vardy while you’re at it!