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

Posted: 10th of November 2017 by

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.”

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

Latest Case Study

Challenging the gender inequality in the tech industry

Challenging the gender inequality in the tech industry

Posted: 13th of March 2020 by Parisha

Females represent only 15% of the technology sector. Empiric trying to change this through our Next Tech Girls (NTG) initiative. NTG’s mission is...

Amy's story

Amy's story

Posted: 26th of February 2020 by Emily

I am volunteering at Calvert Trust Kielder as part of my placement year from university where I am studying for a degree in BSc Adventure Recreation...

Pauline Lagan - Project management with AECOM

Pauline Lagan - Project management with AECOM

Posted: 12th of February 2020 by

Pauline Lagan Team: Project Management Office: Southampton Apprenticeship Level: 6 Studying: Construction Management, University College of Estates...

Carolina Lopato Ricorico - Asset Management with AECOM

Carolina Lopato Ricorico - Asset Management with AECOM

Posted: 10th of February 2020 by

Carolina Lopato Ricorico Team: Asset Management (Asset Advisory) Office: Aldgate Tower - London Apprenticeship Level: 6 Studying: Building Surveying,...

Bradley Causton - Cost Management with AECOM

Bradley Causton - Cost Management with AECOM

Posted: 10th of February 2020 by

Bradley Causton Team: Cost Management – Quantity Surveying Office: Aldgate Tower Apprenticeship Level: 6 Studying: Quantity Surveying BSc (Hons),...