Preview: Football Dreams – The Academy

Football Dreams - The Academy

This series documents an extraordinary group of boys who are trying to achieve their dreams at one of the nation’s most prestigious football academies.

Millions of boys dream of becoming professional footballers, but only a very small percentage make it as a professional. Few professions in Britain have the power to change a young person’s life as rapidly and as dramatically as a football academy.

Filmed over 12 months, this series follows a group of eight-year-olds to 18-year-olds at the famous Crystal Palace Football Club Academy, where the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Gareth Southgate and Aaron Wan-Bissaka progressed through the ranks.

The series shows a range of real and raw stories of boys and their families, from a variety of backgrounds, who all dream of making the Crystal Palace first team, and a fortune, from playing the beautiful game. Constantly assessed and analysed in an elite sports environment, the academy is a test not just of ability but also character.

The coaches give their all to develop and nurture them as footballers and young men, with the aim of improving their lives whether they make it as a professional footballer or not. Some will get retained and another tantalising step closer to the Eagles’ first team, managed by Patrick Vieira, and the luxury of a professional football contract, and some won’t make the cut.

In this episode, we meet Leon, Pete and Kemall, who all play for the under-15s and are centre halves. With three players but only two places in the starting line-up, the boys must fight each other for a future at the highest level. Leon received a scholarship a year early and his mum is already looking for an agent. But Pete and Kemall are battling with injuries and in direct competition with each other, and if you’re not getting minutes on the pitch, the dream of playing in the Premier League risks slipping further away.

Football Dreams – The Academy – Wednesday at 10.00pm on Channel 4.

Image: Chloe Knott.