Youth Teams
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The FA

From stadium to classroom

England stars sit GCSE exams ahead of UEFA European U17 Championship final

Thursday 18 May 2017

Steve Cooper's Young Lions celebrated reaching the final of the UEFA U17 European Championship – by sitting their GCSE biology exam!

Fresh from defeating Turkey to help guide England into Friday's showdown with Spain, five members of the squad found themselves sat in a silent classroom at a school in Zagreb. 

Callum Hudson-Odoi, one of the goalscorers from the 2-1 semi-final win, joined Chelsea team-mate Jonathan Panzo and Manchester City goalkeeper Curtis Anderson for their latest test.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur's Timothy Eyoma and Brighton & Hove Albion's Tom McGill had to contend with their AS maths paper at the X Gimnazija Ivan Speck, a local international college designated as an exam host centre as recommended by the British Council.

And despite being away on international duty at a major tournament, that all-important focus on education still remains a priority.

"Our boys and girls teams from U15 through to U19 level are in a routine where education is part of the day-to-day schedule," said Caitlin Hawkins, The FA's player education manager.

"It's not new, it happens across the board and I'm really pleased that the young players we have accept that education goes hand-in-hand with football.

The FA ;

"Planning for these exams takes six to eight months. When the players come away with England, the rooms they study in are well resourced with a qualified teacher who is our education officer. They are the first point of contact while players are away and they make sure they stay on task. 

"More importantly, it's about creating a good environment to ensure learning takes place and it gives them a little bit of a different focus to football.

"The school, parents, club and country always ensure what's best for the individual as it's a very bespoke learning package. We need to make sure that these young players are catered for and provision is put in place to allow them to achieve in both education and football.

"I have to say that the communication, expertise and resource that the host school in Zagreb provided was outstanding from start to finish so I'd like to thank them for that assistance."

Throughout the course of this tournament, Caitlin has been ably supported by education officer Kevin Batchelor, a former headmaster who is working for The FA at his fourth successive U17 Euros finals. 

As well as taking their tests, there was also the opportunity for the jubilant finalists to be interviewed by the school's magazine.

The FA ;

"It's made clear to us early on that you can't just think about football as education is important as well," said Hudson-Odoi. 

"We need to get the right exam results for our life in general so I had to prepare mentally for it. Biology isn't one of my favorite subjects and obviously I was buzzing after scoring in the semi-final but I had to get myself ready for it.

"As well as getting our football right, we know we have to get our education right.

"I just can't wait for the final now, everyone is buzzing as we know this will be a huge moment for us."

Goalkeeper McGill added: "I don't find it too difficult to make that switch. Of course, everybody is buzzing and celebrating in the changing room but as soon as you get out of that environment you're back on to training ahead of the final and concentrating on education. 

"I feel I've managed that balance well. At our clubs, you head in in the morning for an education slot for a couple of hours so you learn how to deal with that pressure, so it's not like it's completely new to us."

By Andy Walker Senior Communications Manager