Academy Education Project
To be the Best League for Workforce Development in the World
It is very important to think about education in order to create a system for developing workforce in football to achieve “2030 Football Vision”. With the aim of raising the standard of Japanese football, J.LEAGUE provides world-class career* education that enhances life skills (how to solve problems and challenges in daily life in a positive manner) and educational programs to support the education of J.LEAGUE’s clubs. In addition, under “Project DNA”, “Workforce Development Project” and “Education Project” work in conjunction to develop Heads of Education, who is responsible for implementing the programme designed to enhance thier life skills. We provides overall support to the education of all J.LEAGUE’s club players, including the first-year player conference for the newcomers who have just started their professional player careers and the academy education for players who belong to the academy.
*The defenition of “career” is: “A series or accumulation of roles in which a person discovers the value of his or her one’s own role and the relationship between himself or herself oneself and the roles in the process of fulfilling various roles in his or her life” (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology website, www.mext.go.jp, Guide to Career Education, page 15).
At J.LEAGUE, we believe that it is very important for everyone to be safe and secure in their involvement in football. Academy education, which is connected to the academy’s player development program, also teaches the importance of safeguarding, or meaning ensuring that everything that is done in every practices wihtin the academy is conducted in a safe manner.
J.LEAGUE believes that it has a responsibility and a need to work with clubs and academies to establish a culture that promotes safeguarding for every child, young person and adult at risk who is engaged in their football related programmes and activities. J.LEAGUE hopes to accomplish this by including the standard for “safeguarding” in its academy evaluation system, and hosts workshops starting in 2020 to provide safeguarding guidelines for clubs to maintain appropriate standards and share best practice updates.
Safeguarding initiatives are a very important component of all six projects of “Project DNA”, but in J.LEAGUE, the education project is the driving force behind safeguarding.
Player Education Organized by J.LEAGUE
・J.LEAGUE First-Year Player Conference
Held annually since 1993, First-Year Player Conference is an advanced educational program whose content is becoming more sophisticated and important every year. It is essential for first year of professional and amateur players newly joining J.LEAGUE from J.LEAGUE’s club academies, high schools or universities, and provides clear guidance on the valuable foundations and expectations of professional players, and helps them understand how their actions and behaviors represent the J.LEAGUE.
・J.LEAGUE version of the Yononaka Department Facilitator Training Course (2011-2019, cancelled in 2020)
Since 2011, J.LEAGUE has been organizing a year-round J.LEAGUE version of the Yononaka Department Facilitator Training Course for academy staff. J.LEAGUE version of the Yononaka Department programme consists of a total of five classes, mainly for U-14 players, using the so-called “active learning” method, and the J-League has been working to train personnel who can conduct these classes, so that J.LEAGUE version of the Yononaka Department can be conducted by personnel from each club. By 2019, we have trained 188 facilitators. We are now in the 11th year of the program implementaion, and from 2021, experienced facilitators take a role of mentor to develop new facilitators within thier clubs.
・J.LEAGUE version of the Yononaka Department
Since 2010, over the past 11 years, more than 50 clubs have offered J.LEAGUE version of the Yononaka Department programme to about 6,600 U-14 players. Through the programme, players learn about the management and operation of J.LEAGUE and its clubs, and the classes help students deepen their understanding of the role that players should play in such management and operation, regardless of whether the players will be involved in professional football in the future or not, the players will be able to acquire the “information editing skills” necessary to design their own career image by demonstrating ownership (the attitude of taking responsibility for your own affairs) and foster a rich sense of vocation. The programme designed for the pleyrs to deepen their own thoughts together with the guests such as the club president, parents, and staff, and the players and participants to discuss and share their thoughts in response to the facilitator’s positive questions, the final session is an opportunity for the participants to express their future career image plan of what kind of professional football player they would like to be.
・Pre-Professional Training (Pre-Pro Training)
We have started “Pre-Pro Training” for U-16 players from 2019. As a advanced version of the Yononaka Department programme, this programme to help U-16s players understand the club’s football philosophy and the importance of reflecting that philosophy in their actual activities. The purpose of this programme is to help players recognize the elements necessary to bridge the gap between their current situation and their goals (dreams) in football, and to solidify their motivation (determination) to become professional football players. In the programme, players are encouraged to verbalize their thoughts to enable clear communication, for example, each class ends with a “reviews and reflections” and the U-16 players are expected to write down their goals and achievements. This helps the players develop a clear plan and the ability to check their progress in achieving their own high goals.
Previous Workforce Development Programs
・Workforce development and career support business (1993-2009)
In addition to holding an inductory training programme for the first-year professional players since the first year of J.LEAGUE operation in 1993, a GM course was opened in 1999 to train future club executives. At the same time, we established “J.LEAGUE Career Support Center (CSC)” in April 2002, together with the Japan Pro Footballers’ Association (JPFA), with the aim of backing up the future of retired players so that they can lead an independent social life and enjoy a fulfilling playing career while still active. Since 2010, we have shifted our focus from career support for players leaving J.LEAGUE to “player education” activities that support career design, mainly for young players and academy players.
・Workforce development and career design business (2010-2018)
In 2010, J.LEAGUE launched the “J.LEAGUE version of the Yononaka Department Programme”, a career design support program outsourced by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. It is provided for U-14 players of J.LEAGUE’s club academy with opportunities to learn about the environment surrounding J.LEAGUE and J.LEAGUE’s club, as well as their own career design, in an effort to foster a sense of vocation. In 2013, we established the “Workforce Education and Career Design” team to consolidate operations and promote the two tasks of “Career Design” and “Workforce Development”. The first-year player conference, which have been ongoing since 1993, have been improved in cooperation with club staff to meet the actual and practical needs of firts teams.
And starting in 2019, J.LEAGUE has positioned the player education project as one of its “Project DNA”.