Rising football stars can score degrees at Bucks New University


Date: 3rd Feb 2021

A new partnership between Buckinghamshire New University and Academy 23 is helping a squad of rising football stars to train at an elite level and achieve a degree at the same time.

Many young players find their dreams cut short due to academic commitments, while others miss out on the university experience because of strict training schedules. Very few manage to fulfil both goals, but Buckinghamshire New University and Academy 23 are making that a thing of the past.

The hybrid curriculum of training and academia means players can choose from a range of degree programmes from Sports Psychology to Early Childhood and Primary Education, all while receiving high quality coaching, training and competition.

Ben Mulley

Ben Mulley, a current member of the Under-23 squad, said, “I wanted to keep progressing in football but also academically, so this opportunity was perfect for me.

“My career goal is to push as high as I can up the football ladder and see where that takes me, but I would also love to have my own strength and condition business, so my degree will really support that.”

18-year-old Kross Williams moved from Milton Keynes to be part of the programme.

He commented, “Football means everything to me. I wanted to join A23 because this is a very big opportunity for players like me who want to be in the professional game of football.Kross Williams

“Additionally though, it allows me to study at Bucks New University where I’m expanding my academic skills – a bonus for after my football career.

Players benefit from the experience of Lead Coach, Martin Kuhl, who holds a UEFA Pro coaching license, the highest level of coaching qualification in the world. As well as stints as First Teach Coach at Wycombe Wanderers FC and Aldershot Town FC., Martin served as the U21 coach at Reading FC, winning the Premier League U21 in 2014 after beating Manchester City in the final.

A23 Directors, Ashley Smith and Tom Nutter, bring a wealth of experience in developing young players both locally and abroad. They wanted the programme to allow players to continue working towards their footballing aspirations without missing out on higher education.

Ashley Smith commented, "We are delighted to be in partnership with BNU. Both of our organisations are committed to providing quality education in an elite sport environment. We share the same mission of developing the strengths of the "student" and "athlete". 

“Looking ahead, we are excited in how our collaboration can continue to develop."

Professor Paul Morgan, Head of School for Human and Social Sciences at BNU, commented, “We are delighted that our partnership with Academy23 places strong emphasis on supporting talented athletes achieve their academic and sporting potential.

“A23 provide a very high-quality football performance programme built on years of experience of developing an environment where education and performance thrive.

“The collaboration also involves applying our staff expertise in areas of research and professional practice to cultivate a high-performance environment. The programme has proved very popular and we expect further national and international interest.”

Read more about the partnership between BNU and A23.


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