What is it like to be Youth Academy Football Parents?

Youth Academy Football Parents

I have been wanting to write about our boys and their football progress for a while. I had a bit of a light bulb moment last week when the oil light flashed up on the car dashboard. Turns out it wasn’t oil it was the service light. I checked the service book and we have driven 14,000 miles since our last service in July, it was February.

The car isn’t used for commuting to work so this is mostly football training and games mileage. Serious commitment but what’s it really like to be Youth Academy Football parents?

What is it like to be Youth Academy Football Parents?


I have 3 boys, Dylan is 12, Josh is 10 and Jack is 7. Firstly Dylan, he is signed up academy player for Cambridge United. He joined the U8 pre -academy squad in January 2016, he trained with them once a week and played a few games and did so well that he was invited to join the academy. The elite squad of 14 boys. The regime is full-on and requires much commitment from us parents.


Dylan is now in the U12 academy squad. Every week we have training on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays with a game on a Sunday. Training is a 60 minute drive from where we live in Knebworth. The games are normally an hour drive away, places like Barnet, Luton, Peterborough, Leyton Orient or occasionally at home which is in Cambridge, again an hour away.

Plus there are occasional extra games in the holidays or on a Saturday there might be a bigger game, Dylan has played Arsenal, Norwich, Leicester and Man City recently, almost always at the away venue.

It’s a huge commitment that required much time at the weekends and much mileage in the car. We are spending around £150 per month on petrol.


Josh was spotted before Dylan with a well-timed free-kick that struck goal in front of a few scouts when he was 5! Josh joined the pre-academy 18 months ago, and goes to training once a week. Training in a different location to Dylan of course. Plus, he has games every 2-3 weeks on a Saturday. Josh has now played against teams like Fulham, Aston Villa and Watford. Josh is on the path to the academy as well at Cambridge. If he makes it life becomes a bit simpler as both boys will be training in the same location. Although games in potentially different locations on a Saturday/Sunday!

The past 7 days alone have been busy

  • Last Tuesday Josh had a tournament in Newmarket
  • Wednesday Josh had a training day with his pre-academy boys in Cambridge.
  • Thursday and Friday nothing.
  • Saturday was training in the morning for Dylan in Cambridge, then we went to Cambridge in the afternoon to watch the first team Cambridge United game where Josh met the team, manager, chief executive and played on the pitch at half time.
  • Sunday was a game in Southend for Dylan.
  • Monday was football training for Dylan in Huntingdon
  • Tuesday today is an indoor football tournament for Dylan in central Cambridge

what is it like to be youth Academy Football parents

It’s totally worth it

Both our boys love it, they can’t wait for their next training session. They are dedicated to it and so are we. We want to support them every step of the way in their footballing journey. You never know they could make it and we want to have done everything in our capability to support them.

The costs for a year of Youth Academy Football

The coaching and games with Cambridge are all free of charge. Cambridge are one of the only division 2 football teams with an academy with many full-time high quality members of staff. This was a big part of the reason of choosing Cambridge with their caring, professional and considered approach.

We have paid £150 for a full kit which includes training kit, tracksuit, winter coat, match kit, bag.

I have also paid £150 to sponsor Dylan, so Mrs Mummypenny gets a mention in the football program every week. This is not a required payment though.

We need three pairs of football boots that maybe need to be changed every 6 months. Boots needed are indoor trainers, metal studs for wet, muddy grass and moulded studs for harder ground. We get our boots from Pro:Direct Soccer who always seem to have a sale on and cost around £30 to £40 per pair and try to get them in the sale when we can. A cost of £150 for the year per child.

And then the petrol cost of £150 for 9 months of the year. £1350. The additional cost of servicing every 6 months rather than 12 months is £200 ish. The club do run a mini bus to games but we always like to be there!

It is costing us a lot of money- maybe £2000 per year.

what is it like to be youth Academy Football parents

The Time commitment

As you can see there is also a huge time commitment from us parents and that would be a challenge if we had regular employed non-flexible jobs. With me being self-employed I can choose my hours so can be driving off to Cambridge at 4pm this afternoon with Dylan. Hubby can also leave work early and take time off regularly. But it is a balancing act every week once we know where we are going to be.

An honest view of Youth Academy Football

There you have it the reality of being a parent to an academy football player, the real honest view. And we love it. Watching your boys play a game of football is the most incredible feeling of pride ever, so much bigger than if you were to achieve something yourself. And watching them grow into amazing players so happy and confident it is the best feeling ever.

My final point is about preparing the boys for it all ending. It is extremely likely that it will all end. Maybe next year, maybe in 5 years time, maybe it wont end. But the boys have to be prepared for this possibility so we often talk about contracts not being renewed and things ending if the club so decides. But long may they continue to love it.

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More content on Academy Football

This post was written Feb 2017, for a further update on the boys progress read this post written January 2018 – how is everything going for our boys.

And then there is this post how to handle rejection when Josh wasn’t signed to the academy squad -April 2018.



More to explore


Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

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19 Responses

  1. Found this really helpful. My eldest (only 5) has been asked to join Cambridge pre academy from September so good to know what it’s like now and what it will be like in the future at under 9+

    1. Oh thats amazing, so glad I could help. Such a great team of coaches who look out for their young boys. Josh my middle son started at pre-academy aged 5. It felt young but as long as they enjoy it it carries on.

    1. Dylan has missed maybe 3-4 days of school for football tours in each academic year. I do not see this as an impact to his education.

  2. Hi
    Very interesting read. My six year old son has been invited to pre academy training at Tottenham. Very exciting for him and us.

    1. Glad to have helped out. Its a very exciting time just be armed with information and you will be fine:-)

  3. It’s a bizarre role to find yourself in as an academy mum, full of both pride and anxiety. I’m sure lots of us feel the same (not to mention the time and money invested). I am, however, certain that all parents of these little ones will feel nothing but pride that their boys and girls have been able to experience this level of sport at such a young age. They are different and full of potential.

    1. You are right..pride and anxiety. Seen so many disappointed children not make it. But we keep going with the dream and the support and the belief that the boys will make it.

  4. Hi,
    I completely get this post. My son is at 4 premier league academies so we drive him here, there and everywhere. People often say “oh I wouldn’t do that” but the opportunities these academy kids get are unreal. My son is 7 and has met Aguero, Messi, Sane, John Stones, Kompany, Pep, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard plus more. It’s definitely worth it. If he’s not playing in the academy he’s in the garden practising. We have hit the hard stage of pre-contracts! Where to sign etc!! It’s a hard decision but as long as he’s happy that’s all that counts.

    1. Exactly..I think every week that this opportunity might not be here again so grasp it with open arms. Its SUCH a commitment but we love it. Good luck with the pre-contracts. Go with the club that makes your son happy:-)

  5. Our son is in a pre academy he has been to derby and we went to Everton then man city. We drove home from Manchester got in the door then my phone went off to find out our son has been dropped. Our son is in bits and we like many of you have spent a lot of money on this and as quick as a flash no warning or anything its gone. So beware its a cruel world in the land of football.

    1. Oh no David, that so awful for you son. I hope he comes to terms with it quickly and finds another team so he can carry on doing what he enjoys. You are right it can be a cruel world with boys dropped like stones, a commodity. We have been up to Man City and Derby academy grounds, not Everton yet. Man City facilites were amazing.

  6. Hello
    We have set up My Football Mind, which is an exclusive community for Academy Parents and we’d love to hear from anyone in regards to being a parent of an academy footballer.
    We are also holding a conference in September exclusively for parents with some great speakers.
    Please do get in touch for more info.

  7. Stumbled across this and have to say i found it really helpful – my son is 7 and about to find out if he has made the Academy or not at the club he is currently at.

    Its going to be tough if he has not made it but it has been an amazing experience already, that has really helped him develop. He is really confident and its really brought his personality out.

  8. Hi, just wondered how it was all going since you wrote this. I am new to this all with my 8 year old. Be interesting to read an update.

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