Will Stanway's England Para Talent Pathway Journey

Stoke City and England Para Talent Pathway player Will Stanway shares his para football journey so far.

Stoke City and England Para Talent Pathway player Will Stanway shares his para football journey so far.

The Para Talent Pathway is split in to five steps, starting with the England Talent Days for players aged 7-16.

FA England Talent Days are recognised as the first selective environment in the player pathway. The programme identifies and signposts players to the ‘right’ environment at that point in time (they run on a yearly basis to ensure that players can be re-assessed and kept in the Talent System). 

Talent Hubs are the next step in the pathway. Talent hubs deliver engagement sessions for players with cerebral palsy, deaf players and partially sighted players. Sessions enable continued talent identification/confirmation opportunities. 

Hubs are used as a ‘check point’ for these players and have robust processes to link players to appropriate mainstream clubs or impairment specific clubs.

Following the Talent Hubs is the Regional Emerging Talent Programme. Again, there are viewed as the ‘check point’ environment for those players engaged in either impairment specific or mainstream football activity. This environment supports player tracking and monitoring of developmental progress and performance standards; thus informing selection for the National Emerging Talent Programme. 

Players can then progress to the National Emerging Talent Programme which supports the effective transition of players from Regional Emerging Talent Programmes to England development squads. Age specific programmes are provided for each cohort with the deployment of key staff and technical coaches aligned to this. The programme includes a minimum of three Emerging Talent Camps (three-day camps) for each age specific cohort to ensure that players are fully engaged in the programme.

The final step of the pathway is reaching England Under 21s. These squad camps are provided for deaf players and players with cerebral palsy. Three camps per season are complemented by a competitive opportunity (European and World Para Youth Games or Home Nations). Blind, partially sighted and amputee players transition direct from National Emerging Talent Programme cohorts to England/Great Britain Senior Squads. 

Will started with Stoke City on the local program, then progressed through to the regional program, which was held at Hyde United in Manchester, the North section. Since then, Will has worked hard at his game and is now represented on the National Emerging Talent Program – one step away from England U21s.