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Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS)

University of Exeter Sport welcomes FA athletes as part of Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) programme

Having been a TASS Delivery Site for a number of years and worked with aspiring student athletes who have gone on to represent their country at senior international level, Exeter are excited to welcome the future stars of England Women’s Football to their performance training environment.

The FA athletes will have access to a full programme of off-field performance services support as part of the groundbreaking FA Women’s Super League Academies which kick off this month. More than 200 players – affiliated to 11 academies nationwide – can look forward to expert advice from a range of specialist performance staff.  Support services at University of Exeter include Strength and Conditioning (S&C) delivered by UKSCA accredited coaches, physiotherapy from partners Ocean Physio and Rehab and performance lifestyle support from TALS certified lifestyle practitioners. As a result it is hoped the next generation of national female players will graduate to senior football fully prepared for the unique challenges facing emerging elite athletes.

The FA Women’s Super League Academies, and their Delivery Partner the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), offer 16-20-year-olds a combination of targeted coaching and complementary performance services. Focusing on supporting student athletes to achieve academically and within their sport, the emphasis will be on encouraging England’s best young female footballers to combine a full-time education with their on-field commitments.

For the athletes Georgia Popple, Birmingham City’s WSL Academy captain commented “Firstly, this is a more professional pathway that should help players with the possible transition between the academy and the first team. Secondly, as an aspiring medical student, the TASS network will help me to develop as a dual career athlete. It will allow players who are passionate about their sport to realise their goals on the pitch and identify potential careers to pursue alongside – or after – football”.

From the FA Women’s Super League, Academy Manager Tony Fretwell, identified the need to develop a dual career Academy system and believes an extensive commitment to emerging players will reap long term rewards. The FA and FA Women’s Super League Clubs are working in partnership to establish a genuine dual career Academy system that brings together the clubs, further education and higher education institutions with the assistance and support of the TASS network. Within high quality environments, FA WSL players can combine their footballing progression with their career aspirations they as they focus on A Levels, BTECs, or work-based training. The aim is very much to work in partnership to develop a consistent flow of highly skilled and employable young people - be that in football, the workplace or a combination of both”.

University of Exeter Sport is one of ten TASS delivery sites across England who will encourage the FA WSL Academies to access a full range of services designed to support players on and off the field. TASS, supported by Sport England, already works alongside a number of national governing bodies across a range of sports supporting more than 400 performance athletes. Guy Taylor, National Director at TASS, added: “With the support of The FA we want to ensure talented female footballers fulfil their potential off the pitch too. The focus will be as much on physical, psychological and social development as much as it is on the technical side of football. TASS feels perfectly positioned to make a difference to the country’s best emerging female footballers.”

University of Exeter Director of Sport Alison Davidson commented “We really value our partnership with TASS and working to support student athletes both via TASS and as part of our own University of Exeter Performance Programme, to achieve academically and within their sport. Working with the FA and women’s football to support young talented athletes in the area is something we are very much looking forward to being a part of”.

Traditionally, TASS athletes access support at a designated Delivery Site but specialist performance staff will host group sessions at Academies and FA WSL players will receive targeted support focusing on S&C, physiotherapy and lifestyle. The majority of players signed up to the new FA WSL Academies are in full-time education and TASS will demonstrate the value of pursuing a dual career pathway.

The FA WSL Academies are supported by the following ten TASS Delivery Sites:

Arsenal & University of Hertfordshire

Birmingham City & University of Birmingham

Brighton & University of Brighton

Bristol City & University of Gloucester

Chelsea & St Mary’s University

Liverpool and Everton & Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)

Manchester City & Manchester Metropolitan University

Reading & Buckinghamshire New University

West Ham United & University of East London (UEL)

Yeovil Town & University of Exeter

Date: 24 July 2018

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