Jordan Slack’s American Soccer Scholarship
Like many scholars before him Jordan Slack knew some time before the end of his two year scholarship at Chesterfield FC he wouldn’t be offered a professional contract.
‘Even though at first it’s difficult to let go of the idea of getting a pro contract you have to keep your head up,’ he said. ‘And as players you have access to contacts, like the PFA and League Football Education (LFE), to help’.
It was help Slack tapped into as he wasn’t ready to hang up his boots, or give up on his education. He headed for the 2013 Exit Trials with both football and further study on his mind.
Initially he had hoped to be picked up by an English club but attending PFA and LFE events about transitioning out of the Scholarship programme opened his eyes to the possibility of playing and studying in America.
‘My Regional Officer (RO) at the LFE, John Barton, told me there was the possibility of PFA educational funding,’ he explained. After applying to various universities it was the Grand Canyon University Phoenix which made him an offer too good to refuse.
‘It costs more than 30,000 (US dollars) to do a BA degree in America when you take into consideration tuition, room, food and medical insurance,’ he explained. ‘Grand Canyon University offered me a scholarship to study Exercise Science with an emphasis on Health Education, in return for playing for the College football team,’ he said, ‘but there was still a financial shortfall between the offer and the full cost of the fees and other essential expenses, ‘ he added.
That’s when the PFA stepped in with an educational grant for each year of his four year BA course. ‘Without the PFA’s grant scheme the opportunity may not have been possible as I would have been fully dependent on my parents,’ he added.
‘If you don’t get enough scholarship you can’t apply for a student loan to go to an American university so you have to find the difference,’ Slack explained.
Once the PFA grant scheme kicked in it was just a matter of months, from being released from Chesterfield, to being on a plane to Arizona. Three years on he’s approaching his final year, of what’s been an unbeatable experience.
’The American College league system is every bit as competitive as professional leagues over here,’ he said. ‘You get treated really well including being flown to every game. We also have a Nike Sponsorship agreement so all training kit, boots, track suits, shin pads and running shoes are included,’ he added.
College football also attracts plenty of attention. ’The standard is high and support is good with almost 6,500 turning up for our season opener against the University of Central Florida,’ Slack said.
Players train in the spring before pre-season in July. The season then runs from August to December with up to three games a week to compete in.
’I had a few friends who got pro contracts in England but got frustrated as they weren’t given opportunities in the first team as first year pros. I think some of them wished they had the chance I had,’ Slack said.
‘Going to America has been a fantastic opportunity and one I’ll be forever grateful for. Not many people get to fly across America to play games in Florida, Las Vegas and California watched by thousands of people.
‘The professional environment and culture of playing in a different country has been one of the best experiences of my life and I’d recommend any released scholar to travel over to America. It’s definitely an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life’.
Slack has also enjoyed the academic side of life. In the US degree courses are four years long with the first two spent on more general subjects like Maths and English and the second two years on more specialist subjects relevant to the course chosen.
Slack expects to graduate from Grand Canyon University Phoenix in December 2017 and, if his grades are good enough, apply for a Masters in Exercise Physiology at Loughborough University.
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