Norwich City welcomed back ex-striker Leon McKenzie on Tuesday afternoon, who spoke to both the Under-23s and Under-18s about a career after professional sport and the paths they can take.
Speaking on behalf of LAPS (Life After Professional Sport), McKenzie explained to the players his experience after retiring as a professional athlete, as well as advising them on careers that may be suited to their interests.
Going into more detail, McKenzie spoke about his role in LAPS and what the company does to promote young players planning for the future.
“I’m here on behalf of LAPS, which is a company called Life After Professional Sport. I’m very involved with LAPS, I bought my own shares in the company, being that I was very passionate about what my former teammate Robbie Simpson had put forward to me.
“It’s about going into all the Premier League Academies, whether it be Under-23s or Under-18s, and engage with the kids to plan for life after. We engage with them, see what’s going on and see what they’re up to.
“Some of them know what they’re going to do after football, some of them don’t. So, it’s about planting the seed to explore what other avenues are available and what other resources are there, obviously LAPS being a very big platform for them to engage in those resources for what they might potentially want to do.”
McKenzie was full of praise for both groups, who all actively spoke out about what they have planned after a career in football, enthusiastically taking on board the message McKenzie was trying to convey.
“We had two fantastic groups today, the Under-23s and Under-18s. Both engaged with me, especially the Under-18s, who gave me some fantastic answers back and totally understood.
“What Norwich City are doing as a football club is truly commendable to where they’re at. I know it’s been a very established club in that respect, so it doesn’t surprise me. It was good to see kids of that age replying with intelligent answers."
Finally, asked for any advice for his younger self, McKenzie said he would have started the forward thinking of what comes next for his career as soon as he could.
“I didn’t think of a career after football, not while I was playing, hence why I’m standing here today speaking to them with a purpose. I know what it’s like to finish and not really know what you’re going to do, that’s one of the reasons why I do what I do.
“At the age of 17 when I made my debut, I would’ve started the process when I was flying. I’d have understood that, although football is everything, it’s a lot deeper and bigger overall.
“Everything can change in football just like that. It’s about understanding that and giving yourself an opportunity and chance to have a future after football, I would’ve definitely put that into place.”