Virgin Media and Southampton FC launch virtual football academy

Gabby Fernie

Virgin Media and Southampton FC have launched the Virgin Media Football Academy to keep schoolchildren active. 

Working in collaboration with the National Schools Partnership (NSP), the virtual academy has provided hundreds of schools across the UK with pre-prepared football focused lesson plans and video tutorials following the re-opening of schools in March. 

It comes after research by BBC Newsround found that 57 per cent of young people said they had done less exercise than normal since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The lessons will focus on key football skills as well as nutrition and mental wellbeing – all delivered by a team of professional coaches and sport scientists working at Saints’ academy at Staplewood. The lesson plans will be available to download for free online so schools and families can access the sessions anytime.

A special live lesson will be held on 28 April, led by Saints Captain and England international James Ward-Prowse, alongside his teammates and manager Ralph Hasenhüttl.

The live lesson – powered by Virgin Media broadband – will see thousands of schoolchildren of all ages come together in a virtual environment. Players and coaches will be able to interact directly with pupils during the lesson and, to ensure that schoolchildren look the part, Virgin Media is providing 800 free Southampton FC shirts to local schools in Hampshire. 

 “For children from all backgrounds, staying active has been challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that is why we’re using our connectivity to open up the world-renowned Southampton FC Academy to classrooms across the country and help schools bounce back stronger" said Executive Director of Brand and Marketing at Virgin Media, Cilesta Van Doorn. "Virgin Media Football Academy provides easy to use online resources to schools which will help give schoolchildren the impetus to get active and, most importantly, have some fun!”