Joining a professional football academy is an aspiration for many talented young people, and for Jacob Turner, joining Huddersfield Town at the tender age of 14 was his chance to realise that dream. However, after completing his Apprenticeship, the budding star didn’t go on to take the next step into senior football. For many players this can be a tricky time, thinking about what happens when your playing career comes to an end.
For Jacob that meant turning to the PFA for support, and finding out what his options were through the educational fund. Jacob decided to study for a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy degree at York St John University, one of the bespoke and exclusive higher education courses available to PFA members. That decision has now led to a fulfilling career in the NHS, and a nod from the vice-chancellor of the university.
Here Jacob shares his experience of how the PFA supported him at that crucial time...
Jacob Turner BSC (Hons) Physiotherapy Graduate
Jacob, tell us why you initially got in contact with the PFA?
When I left Huddersfield I went travelling for a year and when I came back, I decided to get in touch with the PFA, because I didn’t know what to do with myself, now the football side of things was over.
Physiotherapy was something that had always interested me, so I got in touch with Pat Lally who I knew from his visits to the club to talk about education and the importance of planning for your future. He helped me get an application in and reassured me that studying was a possibility because I was worried about funding and not having the right qualifications. With Pat’s help, within a week I was interviewing for a place, got accepted and was getting ready to go!
What was the transition like to be back in the classroom after football?
I enjoyed the transition because I had always been quite academic, so I didn’t find it difficult at all. There were a couple of other lads with PFA places in the same boat as me, so we all became good friends and helped each other out if we needed to. The first year was quite challenging because it was very technical and people on the course who had studied at A-level found it much easier, but it just took a bit of time to catch up and get used to it all.
You were identified as the top student in your group. That was an achievement!
Yes, I got the vice-chancellors award for academic achievement which is for the person who gets the top mark overall, but started with the least UCAS points, so the person who has made the biggest improvement.
That’s amazing! How are you using your qualification in your current job role?
I’m a band 5 physiotherapist at Lincoln Hospital and I’m currently on a respiratory/surgical rotation. Life in the NHS is a bit different to football, I’d say its more fast-paced as I’m always on my feet non-stop, but the structure we had during training means organisation and punctuality are things that come naturally to me now, and help an awful lot when structuring my day and prioritising how I see my patients.
What would you say to other members who are in the position you were in when leaving a club?
When you’re playing, you’re so motivated and determined to succeed, you can forget to enjoy yourself, and for me coming to university has meant meeting some of my best friends and it’s been an unforgettable experience. I would 100% recommend this path to anyone that was considering making a switch after their playing career, there’s definitely a life after football.
Want to Learn More?
If you are considering your next steps after football but concerned about funding, support is available. PFA exclusive courses are heavily subsidised and Jacob received £23,000 worth of subsidies towards his Physiotherapy qualification.
Educational funding is available to all current or former members of the PFA to help achieve a nationally recognised qualification in a variety of academic and vocational disciplines.
To find out more, contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0161 236 0637