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Orientation day at the Palace Academy - (CPFC Work Experience)

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all well

For my work experience week, I decided to do something to do with football as this is both my passion and would also help with my course at college. A family friend knew somebody that worked at the Crystal Palace academy, Susan Jackson, and as a Palace fan myself was very interested in this placement. I did not know what to expect but I was shocked with the number of opportunities presented to me over the week, and these will be very beneficial for my future. As I am going to university to study sports journalism in September, Susan set up multiple interviews for me throughout the week so I could improve my skills and get some experience.

The week began on Monday 28th of March, and this was the first time I had been to the academy. The facilities at the CAT 1 environment were amazing and as a fan I was stunned with what my team had created over the past few years for the hopeful up and coming footballers. The first day was an orientation day where Susan showed me and my PA around, this was very useful as I learnt a lot about the things the academy offer.

Outside there are 3 main grassroot pitches (although 1 was out of use):

· Pitch 1- used the most for u18 and u23 training, along with all games for the younger aged teams.

· Pitch 2 - normally for the u18 and u23’s training, but a few weeks after being in use they realised there was flint under the pitch causing a safety risk, and sadly did actually cut one of the players; so that is currently being refurbished after being completely dug up.

· Pitch 3 - located in the pride of place in the centre of the others, this is called the “Showcase pitch” only the u18 and u23’s are allowed to use this for their home games. Susan described it as an “incentive” for the younger players as they have something physical to work towards as they go through the ages, and they would be able to see this pitch every time they enter the academy. Sometimes the first team use the pitch for training as it is the newest available within the whole team, but this is very rare.

· 3G Pitch - the under 18’s were out training on this while we were looking round.

· Large dome - huge AstroTurf pitch inside, this is used by all ages for their training when inside. The under 23’s were in here in the morning with Paddy McCarthy preparing for the upcoming week.

GPS Vests

Whilst in the dome we noticed the players wearing monitoring (GPS) vests, when we got back to the office the analytical team explained what these are used for. I learnt that all players would wear these while doing any kind of training and in their matches. The analytical team would then get lots of different data from this including how much they sprint, walk, jog etc throughout the session to ultimately track their performance. This is then used to compare data with either an older or first team player (within the same position) to see if their results are on the right track. They may adapt their styles of play if necessary whilst using the data as evidence for players and coaches.


· The first day the U18s were out on the 3G pitch while the U23s were in the dome with Paddy McCarthy.

· The second day started with us watching the U16’s training in the dome. The goal keepers from the U18 group were practising their long-range passing through the air. Once they were finished the whole dome was taken over by the U16s. They had six coaches and were working on fast paced passing drills in a 3V3 set up with the aim of scoring as many goals as possible, each time a goal went in, the attacker would change out with the goalkeepers also rotating. The loosing group had to do a forfeit of push-ups. The 3G pitch was being used by two of the U18 players who are currently in rehabilitation after injuries so were doing a light session.


During the tour we went to the classrooms, the under 18’s are always based at the academy so have all the necessary requirements on sight for them, it is compulsory for them to still be in education whilst on their footballing journey. They have set times in the day where tutors will teach them their chosen subject, BTEC sport is an option but there are also other A Levels available for players who want to have a qualification away from sport.

· Under 18s – Education Monday am, Wednesday a full day and Thursday pm.

· Under 16s – Hybrid education where they would attend normal education setting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Tuesday and Thursday they would have “day release” where they spend the whole day at the academy both training and being supported on site by the academy tutors. The boys studying GCSE will bring their own work with them for the tutors to assist where necessary.

· Under 9s to Under 15s – Follow the same timetable as the under 16s but the tutors are required to teach their own lesson plans whilst still following the curriculum


I met with the maths and language tutors in with the u16’s to get some more information. The main gist I got from our conversation was how important education is for the players, they have 1 hour a day whilst at the academy with each tutor, this is very beneficial as they are in much smaller groups so they would get more attention and help than they would when they return to their normal schools giving them more chance of success. One of the boys later highlighted there is “not as much stress” at the academy in lessons so I could really tell how beneficial it was for them and their futures. I asked both the tutors if they found it hard to get the boys focussed on their work and away from football, they were both positive and said they are “pretty focussed”.

Multi-disciplinary meeting

My first day ended with observing a ‘multi-disciplinary meeting’. This happens once a week and is where the coaches, physios and safeguarding teams will discuss any issues and also focus on a handful of players ensuring everyone is getting the correct attention and support. This meeting was focusing on the younger ages (U9s - U13s) it was really interesting to sit in on as it showed the different elements of the players that they were focusing on at such a young age; for instance, they are more interested if the player can do the individual basics as opposed to the high-quality standards expected from the older groups. They also discuss the up-and-coming fixtures and identify and tackle any issues surrounding this.

This drew my first day at the academy to a close and I left there with so much more knowledge than I could’ve imagined after just one day. Everyone was very welcoming and highlighted how much of a “family” club Palace is. It was very interesting to see the different perspectives, it was also nice to see how open and honest everyone was especially as it was the first time I had met them.

Thank you for reading the first instalment of my Work Experience week posts, there will be 2 more posted over the next few days focussing more on the interviews I did so please look out for those!



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