Jamie Vardy's V9 Academy Pays Off as Four Graduates Gain Professional Club Contracts
The launch of Jamie Vardy's V9 Academy in May 2016 at Leicester City's home ground has already seen four academy players receive professional contracts at club level.
Talking to the Guardian, Vardy expressed his joy in the success of the V9 Academy, an organisation dedicated to giving non-league footballers a 'second chance' to live their dreams and gain a chance in playing in the top tier.
Vardy himself is a prime example of the success story from second chances as the once factory worker became a Premier League winner by not giving up his passion for football.
He believes that too many professional clubs don't put much effort in finding gems in non-league football and hopes the Academy he has built alongside his agent, John Morris, will give more players the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.
"I know what I had to do to get to where I am and from playing in non-league I was playing against players who should have had pro clubs,” the England international said.
The four graduates who landed professional contracts are Danny Newton, Alex Penny, Lamar Reynolds and Blair Turgott.
Newton landed a contract at League Two side Stevenage after his impressive performance at Tamworth in the National League North last season.
His 29 goals for Tamworth came as a surprise to everyone with no prior experience at academy level nor an agent to guide him at the age of 26.
“I’ve just played non-league,” Newton told the Guardian. “I was at Hinckley United in the Conference North when I was 17. I broke into the first team and was playing every week for three years and they went bust.”
Newton was pursuing a career in maintenance engineering before landing the professional contract, proving that the V9 Academy really helped him with his second chance at football.
Vardy believes that the instant success that clubs pursue today is the reason why their isn't much appreciation and focus on non-league players.
Academy coach Chris Ramsey also agreed with the Leicester forward, stating: “Clubs need to be more patient with regards to people who are released, how long they stay in the club. Timing is a major factor."
He further went on it state that academies provide young players with too much, too soon.
“Some youngsters are overpaid because they don’t realise the opportunity they have been given, they haven’t got the resilience of players who have been given a second chance.”
Newton's fellow graduate Turgott also plays for Stevenage but has a different upbringing compared to the 26-year-old.
The 23-year-old midfielder was a former youngster at West Ham United who found disappointment in loan spells away from his club. He managed to bounce back after getting a full season playing for Bromley.
Vardy concluded by saying: “The main aim was to get the lads into the professional game when they’re not getting the chance for whatever reason. Either no one was going to watch them or they were dropped from the pro club and had just gone into non-league hoping straight away they’ll be back up but it doesn’t always work like that."
The V9 Academy has allowed non-league players better scouting opportunities than they would've imagined.