Jakey Palmer, from Eltham, has been working hard to make the most of virtual Post-16 Football & Education Academy sessions during lockdown.
A two-year full-time programme run in partnership with SCL Education & Training, Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT)’s Post-16 Football & Education Academy is aimed at 16 to 19-year-old males and females interested in combining their education with the life of a professional footballer.
Jakey, 17, who says training during lockdown “has been very, very different”, has had to think outside the box at times.
“I haven’t got a goal up in my park, so I have to practice my shooting drills up against a fence, and dribble around cones that act as defenders”, he says.
Obtaining regular experience of “the competitive environment” is an important part of the programme, and Jakey has missed match days most during lockdown.
He has been taking part in online isolation sessions put on by tutors and spent extra time analysing professional matches in this period, however.
“My knowledge of the game has improved due to the analysis on professional games I have been watching”, he adds.
And he has used the period to get on top of school work, training and nutrition, which he has done “hours and hours of research on how to optimise”.
“I believe I have made quite a few improvements to my game during lockdown”, he says.
“For example, I believe my weak foot and dribbling has become a lot stronger due to the dribbling and shooting exercise I’ve been doing”, he says, and has noticed improvement in his “fitness levels”.
“I have been measuring my running times, and they have improved since the start of lockdown”.
Education is a key part of the programme, and he pays tribute to tutor Dean Jarman.
“I am always asking him how I can improve on my assignments and he is always very helpful in his responses and helps me complete them to the best of my ability”, Jakey says.
The period has also allowed him extra time to “reflect on what I want to achieve in life and the amount of work I’m willing to put in to achieve that goal”.
Michael Lawrence, CACT’s SE London Football & Sports Development Officer, says:
“Jakey is an individual who has excelled and gone above and beyond to demonstrate his determination to continue his development and really bought into the training plan.