Anthony Spencer, Wesleigh Burke and Stephen Jones are the people behind Nottingham Education FC, a not-for-profit organisation designed to teach valuable life skills through the medium of sport in the hope of influencing Nottingham’s youngsters to become, as Steve puts it, “More knowledgeable, more aware and more trusting”.
It’s clear that Anthony, Wes and Steve all passionately believe in the power of education, utilising their own experiences of professional football, international futsal and university education as a way to impress upon youngsters the need to cultivate life skills such as communication, resilience, leadership and togetherness to build a successful and fulfilling future.
Collectively they work at FUEL (First Universal Education Ltd), an alternate provision, working to improve the lives of young people in the Nottingham’s communities, providing education and mentoring support.
In Nottingham Education FC, however, they are able to reach out to even more students and boast players from Bluecoat Academy (Aspley), Ellis Guilford, Trinity, Whitemoor Primary, Rosslyn Primary, Nottingham Academy, amongst others. “We work with these schools”, Steve explains, “to help to provide our players with behaviour management, academic support and aim to improve relationships between parents, students and teachers”.
All players within the club are given a journal in order to record their educational tasks and homework. These include tasks which improve academic subjects, attitude and personal development sessions in the hope of seeing marked improvements within a few months.
Outside of school time, Nottingham Education FC offers access to free football, futsal and dance sessions for 6-12 year olds at Minver Sports Centre and it is currently attracting over fifty young members of the Aspley community. The programme has been so successful that they have had five players signed to academies from the club in a year, as well as numerous signings to academies through their partner organisation.
For the past twenty years NEFC have had a presence in Aspley, Whitemoor, Broxtowe and surrounding areas with a community football club that provides a safe, fun environment, whilst learning life lessons. They have around twenty teams, ranging from 6-18 years old, open to boys and girls, and play across YEL, NYFL, and JPL leagues; as well as running a college program for young adults looking to study BTECs and play football at the same time.
The aim is to keep fees as low as possible, a vision made possible thanks to support from local businesses. As the organisation continues to grow, the team have their sights set on a 4G pitch in Melbourne Park and are hoping for investment to further facilities; there is a chance that Nottingham Education FC can be responsible for providing Nottingham with a future generation of footballing stars.
But the main objective for all at Nottingham Education FC is, as Steve summerises, “making better people, first and foremost”.