Former Villa stars link up with SCL to help pros of the future

Posted by SCLedu on 16.11.17

With over 1,000 professional appearances under their belts, it is fair to say that David Norton and Mark Draper know a thing or two about what it takes to have a successful career.

After starting in the ‘Second City’ with Aston Villa, Norton forged an impressive career for himself that saw him enjoy spells at the likes of Hull City and Northampton while Draper, who played over 200 times for Notts County, turned out in the top-flight for Villa and Southampton via time in La Liga with Rayo Vallecano.

But instead of basking in their past glories, Norton and Draper are now using all their experience to help the stars of the future – in whatever career path they want to take – by running the Team DNF (Draper Norton Football) Academy.

Team DNF Academy has formed a new partnership with SCL Education Group to run a two-year football training and education programme for 16-18 year olds, based in Nottingham.

Players will train and educate, in brand new world-class facilities at Nottingham Trent University which boasts a sports hall, gym, classroom, a variety of pitches including a new 3G pitch and a nutrition centre.

Players will be taught the knowledge, attitude and skill they can apply in their professional careers making for an educational experience like no other.

Players who graduate from The Football Academy programme have the opportunity to go on to play professionally, secure a job in sports coaching or leisure, enrol in university or an apprenticeship programme.

Norton and Draper plied their trade at the highest level but at DNF they believe that talent at all levels should be nurtured, and that players should receive the recognition they deserve so that they may aspire to reach their goals.


DNF’s ethos is a perfect fit for SCL, whose mission is to engage and develop young people giving them a platform to launch a career in sport. SCL is an innovative OFSTED approved provider that allows grassroots and professional clubs to inspire youngsters in their communities into education and help develop future first-team stars.

Over the past 15 years, SCL has teamed up with over 60 Non-League and professional clubs to create academies for 16 to 18-year-olds and they have developed, educated and graduated over 7,000 students.

Steve Franks, Partnership Director, SCL Education Group said: “We are pleased to partner with an academy like DNF who believe in what we do. Our success with helping our partners run successful programmes stems from our passion for developing people, this is what motivated us in the beginning and is what still motivates us today.”

The academy programme offers opportunities to young people who have become disengaged from traditional education.

Draper, DNF Academy Manager told The NLP: “All these lads don’t want to be stuck in Sixth Form and a lot of them end up dropping out, whereas on these courses we have retained a high percentage of the lads for the two years.”

Many clubs or private academies who are currently with education providers may be deterred from switching provider, as the process can be difficult but SCL are well experienced in managing this process.


Draper added: “We weren’t very happy with our education programme at the time so we reached out to Matt at SCL.

“I had known other clubs that had used SCL and there was good feedback and I had done a bit of research into SCL and everything looked exactly what we were looking for at the time and it has proved it was a good decision.”

When asked about the switching process at SCL and how SCL are now working with and successfully running the educational side, Draper said: “It’s been brilliant. Obviously, we needed to get it done pretty quickly, we had 45 lads on the programme, and it was all done within three or four weeks which was fantastic. As football coaches it makes our job a lot easier whereas before we had to deal with different bits and bobs and obviously SCL took care of that.

“We had two good teachers in place which stayed on with SCL, which is even better. It gives us more time to concentrate on the football side.

“We’re sort of getting more established now, our reputation is growing and we are quite happy with SCL and we want it to be a long-term relationship.”

Andy Roach, who is the FE Sports Lecturer on the programme, told The NLP about how the programme improves the life of the players.

“At Draper Norton we feel we have an extremely strong provision both on the football side with two experienced ex-professional players and highly qualified coaches, but also on the education side. We have two tutors who between them have over 15 years of delivering Level 2 and Level 3 BTEC courses in a range of higher education institutions.

“The tutors and coaches work very closely every day in supporting our learners to make sure we offer the best possible support and provision. We are all passionate about improving the life chances of our learners in both football and the world of work.”

Draper Norton have also put one of their teams into SCL’s development league to give their players the opportunity to play regular competitive matches.

The SCL Development league currently has 45 clubs and is for players aged 16-18 years to compete for the chance to win the divisional championship and go on to win the Champion of Champions title.

Find out more about the DNF’s programme  in partnership with SCL at

If you would like to speak to SCL about running an academy programme, becoming part of SCL’s development league or about how an apprenticeship programme could help your club then call SCL on 0345 644 5747 or request a call back by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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