Football Through the Lockdown

29th April 20

The Abbey College Manchester Students participating in the Academic Football Programme have been busy keeping up their football skills during the worldwide lockdown caused by Coronavirus Pandemic and today, 29th April, a number of them will participate in a virtual showcase to be shown to over 60 UK pro football club talent scouts and Soccer Assist. This means that our student players will still have the opportunity to impress and catch the eye of UK and international pro and semi-pro clubs, as well as US universities and colleges offering soccer scholarships in the USA.

Abbey Manchester has 21 students currently participating in the programme. The students are from all over the world and are studying a range of academic programmes alongside the football training. Not all of them wish to be professional footballers, but they are passionate about football and recognise the benefits of playing football alongside their academic studies and that the discipline of participating in team sport compliments their studies.

The football side of the programme is run by experienced professional coaches, working with Abbey College Manchester. Further information about the programme can be found by clicking here.

During the lock down, the Director of Football, Mick Brennan, has been keeping in regular contact with the squad via email. Mick’s frequent emails have included links to personal video motivational messages from him, which have also included some basic fitness and football skills drills. These have helped to keep our student players active, engaged and motivated, even if confined to their homes. The response has been great with quite a few Abbey College Manchester student players sharing posts of themselves training alone in their gardens.

Here is a  video of Omid training in lockdown

and here is Andrew.


Marc Arrowsmith, Director of Accommodation commented “I am very impressed with the hard work the players have continued to put into developing their skills, despite the circumstances they find themselves in at present – and this is testament to their commitment to the course. At Abbey College Manchester, we use The 4 Rs as a framework for a students’ development – Routine, Rigour, Resilience, Responsibility. The attitude shown by all our students during this time reflects all the 4 Rs, and this gives the whole college a real sense of pride.”

But, it’s not just about physical fitness and skill, these troubled times can also lead to anxiety and stress. That’s why it is equally important that our young players remain mentally positive and focused right now. So, we were extremely grateful when Mark Bowden, mental performance consultant and best-selling author, got in touch with our Director of Football with a wonderful offer. Mark works one-to-one with professional Footballers predominantly at Championship and Premier League level. Mark wrote – “Use Your Brain, Raise Your Game: The Professional Footballers Guide to Peak Performance”. Mark says that professional footballers spend their lives training and improving their ability. But, he believes that it isn’t actually their ability that ultimately holds them back. It’s being able to perform to this ability consistently and the key to this is by taking time to also improve their mind.

We were thrilled when Mark offered all Abbey Manchester Football Academy players free access to his ground breaking football mindset App; “TopForm – Use Your Brain To Raise Your Game”.

Mark wrote: “Whilst everyone is going through this down time, I’ve been looking to give something back and help players with both their progress and their mental health whilst we are all going through this.”

The App takes players through mental training for peak performance at different stages eg. Pre match preparation and focus, after game focus, after game conditioning. Gradually helping players re programme how they mentally approach all aspects of their game.

Like Mark says: “We’re going to bounce back from this, football once again will be something that is a huge part of our lives again. But, in the meantime let’s make this a more positive experience for the players.”

We have embraced his message and have helped to reinforce it by facilitating our players to maintain mental and physical fitness and well-being throughout.

They say that crises lead to creativity and Football Academy Director, Mick Brennan certainly used this one to come up with a wonderful idea. Mick was keen to provide the young players with an opportunity to show case their talent, in much the same way as our physical, twice year, “Show Case Event” hosted at the Manchester training ground would normally do. So, not to be beaten, Mick came up with the “Virtual Showcase Event”.

As Mick said: “This week I spoke to one of the Manchester United FC Youth Academy head scouts. This top club scout is currently just sat at home watching out for videos of new up and coming players on the internet. So, I thought to myself, why don’t we send video of our players to him?”

And so the idea was born! This year, on Wednesday 29 April, the Football Academy is conducting a unique online “Virtual Showcase Event” and inviting a broad selection of pro-club scouts to attend.

To view the virtual showcase webpage please click here.

We are now busy planning innovations ready for the new Autumn term, when we look forward to welcoming all our players back to training again.

Mick enthuses: “Our players have been exceptional in the way that they have reacted to these conditions. They have done exactly as they have been asked and all stayed safe. However, when our players can train and play again together, it will be really something to celebrate. We are currently planning some exciting new events that will help them really look forward to getting back to training in Manchester even more.”