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Second Chance Football Club – A Club Giving Ex-Academy Players Another Opportunity At Success

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Football has its highs, but for academy players it also has its lows with only 0.5% of players making it professionally. The remaining percentage often get released with no back up option. After having a similar experience himself in the aspect of being released from sport/elite academies and having nowhere to go, Lead Coach Aston Richards set up Second Chance which is based in Chiswick, West London, to get players back into elite football environments but also provide them with vital life skills they can use outside of football. By doing this it allows the young boys to go into later life as “great employees or great employers”. Richards shared how the club is also to help footballers retain their identity expressing how boys that fall out of academies often lose their identities and end up committing suicide, go to jail, or in dead end jobs. He wants to help players understand less than 1% make it and “yes you can chase your dreams, push yourself as far as you want to but have something to fall back on and something you’re working on alongside football … if it ever happens that [they’re] released [they] can walk in and become a CEO … a manager, a supervisor, whatever [they] want to be”.

The club is for boys aged 16-23 years old and they will have two teams, under 19 and under 23, which will both compete in the national league and national competitions. Along with this to help players have the opportunity to get back into academies the club plan to hold showcase events in front of scouts from clubs up and down the football pyramid, and so far have three planned for the summer.

The players are scouted using an open invite trial system so any players from any background, economical standing, playing background or location can have a trial. All players will then receive an honest report based on what the coaches think and the opportunities they can provide on the programme. Having only been fully established this year in March the club is in the early phases so were unable to provide any numbers. I was invited and attended one of their first trial sessions, where unfortunately only 10% of the registered turned up. The day still went ahead as planned with the participants doing positional drills with Richards before moving into mini matches for the coaches to see how they are on and off the ball. Richards expressed how on the trial day they were looking for more mental attributes such as character and if they’re motivating the other boys as physical attributes can be controlled, taught and improved within the club.

When asked about the opportunities that the club offer, Richards explained how they have a partnership with SGI who are educational providers. SGI coach and ex UCFB student Tom Ford was also at the trial day with some of his players from Farnborough/Fleetwood’s academy. On Second Chance’s full time programme (3 days a week) the players will complete a course ranging from level 1 to degree level alongside their football. The club also plan to have “extra-curricular days” once a month where they will either be onsite learning things like how to write a CV or will take the boys out to network/business events that will benefit them. An immediate opportunity Second Chance provided was access to Sammy Leonard-Mould on their trial day; Sammy is the owner of SLM Sports Management and provides mentoring to young players. He gave a brief talk to the players emphasising the unrecognised needs to get into the football industry and was another set of eyes to support Richards during the trial.

Richards gave an insight to what he did before Second Chance explaining how he has worked in sales positions and youth coaching in Birmingham where he coaches community leagues. His sporting background consisted of spending some time in America where he played for a few elite academies and was also involved in international rugby. Despite Richards himself working towards his coaching badges, the coaches around him have qualifications in coaching and are working towards their UEFA badges to give the players the best quality of teaching. The staffing team currently consists of three coaches, but they are looking to expand in the near future.

Keep your eyes peeled for the future endeavour of this club, Richards and his team seem to have some promising foundations in place for the upcoming football generation.

Please contact Aston Richards for more information:


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