Saints join Virgin Media to launch virtual football academy


Southampton are joining forces with Virgin Media to launch the Virgin Media Football Academy, a series of lesson plans, training videos and a special live lesson designed with experts from our proud Academy to help teachers and pupils bounce back into physical education after months of school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saints players including club captain James Ward-Prowse and fellow England international Theo Walcott – both Staplewood graduates – as well as manager Ralph Hasenhüttl and Saints coaches, will lead live drills to get schoolchildren active.

Working in collaboration with the National Schools Partnership (NSP), Virgin Media has provided hundreds of schools across the UK with pre-prepared football-focused lesson plans and video tutorials to keep schoolchildren active and reduce teachers’ workload following the reopening of schools in March.

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. All of the lesson plans will be available to download for free online so schools and families can access the sessions anytime.

As part of the Virgin Media Football Academy, Virgin Media will also power a live-streamed football lesson to hundreds of classrooms throughout the country on Wednesday 28th April. The live lesson – powered by Virgin Media broadband as well as 5G connectivity at selected schools – will see thousands of schoolchildren of all ages come together in a virtual environment to take part in a once in a lifetime experience, led by elite athletes and coaches.

Saints boss Hasenhüttl commented: “Our Academy has a long and proud history of producing some of the best footballing talent in the country and is something that we’re proud of as a club. Helping schools by contributing to the Virgin Media Football Academy is a great thing and we’re excited to see thousands of schoolchildren in our live lesson on April 28th.”

Ward-Prowse added: “As a graduate of the Academy, I know from first-hand experience the benefits of the incredible team at Staplewood. It’s brilliant that we’re able to open up the experience of the coaches and experts to help schools across the country and encourage kids to be active.”

During the virtual lesson, which will be hosted by broadcaster Rachel Stringer and Joel Beya of CheekySport, players and coaches will be able to interact directly with pupils. And to ensure that schoolchildren look the part, Virgin Media is providing 800 free Saints shirts to local schools in Hampshire.

Cilesta Van Doorn, Executive Director of Brand and Marketing at Virgin Media, said: “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.

“The 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!”

For more information on Virgin Media’s Football Academy, and to watch some of the incredible training sessions,