We take a look at the off-field achievements of one Chelsea Academy youngster who is splitting his time between the field and the financial markets…

It is not just on the field that young players in the Academy are encouraged to thrive, but in every aspect of life, including their academic studies. While juggling development as young professionals with post-16 qualifications can be challenging, every effort is made to support dual aspirations with the aim of broadening horizons and maintaining interests away from football.

Development squad defender Jack Wakely is one such youngster who has continued his studies long after the required exams have been taken. When his work at Cobham is finished and he heads home after lunch and swaps trading tackles with trading stocks as part of his Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Financial Trading. Earlier this month, the 20-year-old received confirmation that he had achieved the higher education qualification.

‘I really enjoyed it and I’m now speaking about what I can do next,’ he told the official Chelsea website. ‘I’m not sure if I will be able to on top of all my football so maybe it would be best when my career is finished but I’m open to finding out if there is anything I can do while I’m still playing.

‘There are specific things I like to trade like indices and currencies but I’m not so confident with bonds. I enjoyed the technical analysis a lot, especially when we were down in London and we could hear the financial news coming in - having to react quickly and put trades on was a part I really enjoyed.’

Neil Bath, head of youth development at the club, recently outlined how the capacity to learn was key for any player, linking it closely to football progress in the modern game.

‘We aim to create a culture in which all players understand that the process of learning is key, not just for academic progress but also to football development,’ explained Bath.

‘The game is increasingly more tactical so players need to be intelligent, they need to take on information quickly in order to execute tactics and be able to make good decisions under pressure.

Wakely can also see the similarities between his sport and his studies, while the opportunity to get stuck into the books during lockdown was another welcome distraction.

‘You have to be disciplined in both fields,’ he noted. ‘In football, you have to be disciplined because it’s a tough sport and in trading, if you aren’t disciplined then things can go horribly wrong so there are things that link across both industries.

‘I like doing education on top of football because it keeps me occupied but it was even more important over the lockdown period. I had a lot more free time so I used it to my advantage by looking at the markets and doing my work for the course.’

Wakely has benefited from a programme in the Academy that takes young players out of their comfort zone, equipping them with life skills in everything from cooking and consent to social media and speaking in public.

Financial trading may be a particular specialism, though another two youngsters have since followed Wakely onto the course this season as the post-16 education programme at the Academy continues to provide players with the resources and support to study in their chosen subject alongside their on-field development.

‘I always want to use my time to do something that will benefit me, either now or in the future,’ added Wakely.

‘I would definitely recommend it to any of the boys. You need a balance but we do get some spare time where we can fit in education and I think it’s beneficial because it takes your mind off football when you need to.’