Everton Football College has a proven track record in nurturing and developing young people to succeed in their chosen field. Here, evertonfc.com speaks to one student about how the college helped him settle into the country and set the stage for what he describes as "the best chapter in my life".
Everton Football College and Liverpool John Moores University student Gracjan Chrusciel arrived in England aged 16.
With new surroundings, new people and a new culture to adapt to, Gracjan could have been forgiven for feeling daunted when he first joined Everton Football College in 2017.
“I never expected to receive the amount of help I got from my teachers, tutors, all of the staff and new peers from the college” says Gracjan, now 21.
“The first two to three weeks living in England were the hardest of my life. My English was good only on paper. I was shy and I can’t even think about how many times the thought, ‘Is it for me, will it be better to stay or go back?’ went through my head.
“I was never alone and I knew that I could always count on the people I'd met at the college. I have never experienced better help with my education from teachers or support from other students.”
Originally from Poland, Gracjan admits Everton Football College helped him settle in England, and his gratitude towards the teachers is met with a sense of pride when he looks back on what he’s achieved, both personally and professionally.
“All of these people gave me the best help I could ever imagine," he adds. "I was able to speak to everyone and get as much positivity as possible.
“I am very grateful for all of these people who helped me at the beginning of my journey in England. Because of them, I was able to gain lifetime experiences, academic qualifications and develop skills that will help me to be successful in my life.
“I’ve met and played against a professional deaf football team from Ghana, I’ve travelled to China for three weeks to coach football to children. I’ve represented Everton Football College as captain for two years, including at an international football tournament in Dallas. I’ve been to Aruba as a coach... and I’ve even met and played against the Japan Olympic football team!”
Arguably, his biggest success to date though was achieving his GCSE English, BTEC Level 3 Sport and his FA Level One Coaching License. All of these were attained at Everton Football College, which combines a post-16 curriculum for students looking to develop their practical skills with UEFA accredited coaching and daily training, as well as extra-curricular opportunities designed to help students succeed.
With so many additions to his ever-growing CV, in September last year, Gracjan was ready for the next stage in his inspiring journey and began his Sport Development and Coaching Foundation Degree with Everton Football College and LJMU.
“Studying the degree with Everton was a natural progression for me” adds Gracjan. “I will graduate in three years with a BSc(Hons) degree from LJMU and have the opportunities to develop my coaching even further. This summer I plan to go to America with Challenger Sports to become a soccer camp leader.
“The experience and knowledge I gained from Everton Football College gave me opportunities to work and coach outside of college. I started volunteering as a helper with the Under-6 football team at Wisla Krakow UK academy, and now I’m their first-team Under-12 coach.
“I’m also part of the EQUIP team, which strives to help people develop and fulfil their potential through sport and help them to learn, understand and improve key lifestyle skills that can make them become a great and positive member of society.
“With all the support and opportunities that Everton Football College have provided, I can say that the greatest chapter of my life started when I joined this college.
"After receiving all the help from everyone, I am happy to say that the decision to join and be part of this fantastic place gave me a chance to develop myself, not just academically but personally through playing or coaching football.”