SCL Extends FSD Academy Partnership

Ex-Premier League footballer Matt Piper is delighted to see his beloved Football & Sports Diploma Academy (FSD) extending their partnership with SCL Education & Training.


The former Leicester City winger, 37, set-up the academy in 2017 with the aim of creating exciting career pathways for 16-19-year-olds who have a passion for football and aspirations to gain academic qualifications.


SCL will continue to provide an outstanding education programme, giving students the opportunity to gain a BTEC Level 3 in Sport alongside their passion for football under the guidance of UEFA licensed coaches.


Piper himself has had to reinvent himself during his lifetime, having been forced to retire from professional football at the age of 26 due to persistent knee injuries as well as his battle with alcoholism and drug use in the years that followed.  


Leicester born and bred, Piper scored the Foxes’ last ever goal at Filbert Street before making the switch to Sunderland for £3.5 million where he played more than 30 times including an appearance in the 2004 FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford.


Based at Highfield Rangers Football Club in Leicester, Piper works with former Foxes teammate and long-time friend Owen Johnson to inspire the next generation.


Johnson was Emile Heskey’s strike partner in Leicester’s academy, but never progressed into the first team and eventually went to college where he gained a sports qualification. 


“We’re really lucky to have the support of SCL, who have been superb ever since we partnered with them,” said Piper.


“They have enabled us to grow as an academy and in the last two years our numbers have increased considerably.


“It’s incredibly tough for 16-year-old school leavers as a lot of them don’t know what they want to do going forward. 


“Most of them just need some direction in their life and hopefully the FSD Academy does just that by using football as a way of changing lives.”


Foxes icon Jamie Vardy is the benchmark for those players dreaming of hitting the high notes in professional football, the 2015/16 Premier League winner having been let go by his hometown club Sheffield Wednesday as a youngster.


Vardy did it the hard way, making a name for himself in the lower leagues with Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town, before moving to the King Power Stadium in 2012.


“We encourage the students to achieve their goals and ambitions, either in sport or alternative career pathways into employment or university,” said Piper, who maintains strong links with the football industry as a pundit for BBC Radio Leicester.


“Jamie Vardy is a great example of someone who has kept working hard and has not given up on achieving a football career. Ian Wright was the same, plying his trade in non-league football, before getting his break with Crystal Palace.


“If the kids are good enough, they will get their opportunity and if they don’t quite make it, they will gain very important qualifications as well as some crucial life skills to help them on their next steps.”


Lawrence Blair, SCL Partnership Director, is delighted to have inked a new deal with the Leicester-based academy who will be a welcome addition to the SCL sponsored Development League this coming season.


“Matt and Owen are doing fantastic work with the academy and we are proud to have strengthened our partnership with FSD,” said Blair.


“Leicester is a huge sporting city, with top-level football, rugby and cricket clubs catching the imagination of the local community.


“It’s great to see so many successes coming out of the academy since it was set-up, and I’m excited to see what the future brings.”