Prompted by the growth of women’s football, a successful Croydon based youth training academy is to introduce a full-time programme for girls equivalent to that offered to boys.
Kinetic Academy set up in Croydon in the aftermath of the 2011 London riots, is now renowned among aspiring young footballers with new academies across London. Three of Kinetic’s earliest academies are based in Croydon, South Norwood and Crystal Palace.
Tyra Mills, the newly appointed Academy Manager overseeing the girls program said she hopes to: “replicate with the girls academy the amazing work that Kinetic are doing with their boys academy.”
From last season, Kinetic Academy started a girl’s football program across London, including at their Crystal Palace academy. This only offered weekly one-day training programs. Kinetic recognises the need to expand their girls program and Kyle Bernard, the Kinetic Academy Manager for South London-described the girls program as “the next step in the Kinetic program.”
Following the victory of the Women’s England team during this summer’s Euros, interest in women’s football has increased significantly; 17.6 million fans tuned in to watch the Final.
The number of young girls interested in playing competitive football has also increased. The FA calculates that since October 2022, there has been a 30% increase in women football teams, and a 15% increase in youth teams made up of girls aged 5-18 years old.
Bernard said that “young people get excited if a Kinetic player visits.” This is for good reason, as 64 graduates of the academy are now playing football at professional level.
Bernard said: “It’s about getting kids off the street, [and] providing them with opportunities through football they never thought they could get, such as getting them into university or internships.”
The football club’s philosophy embodies a “solution based” ethos: “Players are encouraged to use solutions on the pitch in real life. It is about creating as professional an environment as possible, so when they (the pupils) go into workplaces it’s not a shock to their system.”
Essentially, Kinetic is about setting up young people with a successful career, whether this is in football or not.
Kinetic academy’s formula is a proven success as 98 per cent of participants leave to study at university or enter employment. Famous alumni include Southampton midfielder Joe Aribo, and Bordeaux striker Josh Maja.
Bernard said that “Kinetic is a charity first and foremost” and the academy does a lot of community outreach work.
For example, over the Christmas period, Kinetic plans to offer children on the free school meal register a free meal and the opportunity to play football at Whyteleafe Football Club, aimed at “getting young people out of the house.”
Focused on the future, Bernard is confident “we’ll get another three or four players signed (for professional teams) by the end of the season. Quite a few boys are doing very well.”
“There’s lots of opportunity nowadays in non-league football, you can make a career out of non-league football whilst doing something on the educational side at university or at work.”
Kinetic Academy’s next fixtures are scheduled for the new year.
- Kinetic Foundation is an umbrella term for the Kinetic Academy and Kinetic Community projects. It was founded by Harry Hudson and James Fotheringham.
- The charity uses football to help vulnerable young people between the ages of sixteen and nineteen reach their potential by developing their football abilities and confidence in a workplace.
- Kinetic Academy is their flagship programme. The academy works in partnership with the Harris federation of academies to encourage students to pursue a career in both football and education.
- Kinetic Academy’s team play in a number of youth leagues. In the SCL Youth Development League their team is currently fourth in the table.
- Kyle Bernard is the Academy Manager for South London, and Lee Hayes oversees the academies across North London.
- Kinetic Community offers free football training sessions for young people between thirteen and sixteen years’ old across London every week.