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How Tottenham Hotspur Foundation changed the life of Gillingham's Osadebe

Posted on 21 September 2016  - 17:15

When Gillingham midfielder Emmanuel Osadebe takes to the pitch at the Lane tonight, he may well look back on how the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation played its part on helping him reach the big stage.


Our charitable Foundation helped make Osadebe’s dreams of becoming a professional player a reality through its Education and Football Development Centre programme delivered in partnership with Barnet and Southgate College.

At 17 years old, Emmanuel moved from Ireland to North London to enrol on the Foundation’s college programme in 2014.

The programme uses football as a hook to engage young people classified as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) in education offering Academy-standard coaching alongside BTEC qualifications.

Foundation coaches supported Emmanuel to develop his skills on the pitch, focus in the classroom and set his sights on developing a career within the sports industry as either a player or a sports coach.

Below: Spurs TV special - Emmanuel Osadebe returns to Barnet and Southgate College


While studying for his Level 3 BTEC in Sport, Emmanuel was given an opportunity of a lifetime and offered a trial at Gillingham through the Club’s links with former legendary Spurs defender and current Gillingham manager, Justin Edinburgh, who played for us between 1990-2000.

After playing four games with Gillingham’s development side, Justin Edinburgh offered Emmanuel a professional contract with the Kent-based club.

Now at the age of 19, Emmanuel has gone from strength to strength, making 31 senior appearances to date, scoring three goals - including the Gills’ Goal of the Season last term.

Ahead of tonight’s game, Emmanuel made a trip back to where it all started for him and visited current students studying on the Foundation’s Education and Football Development Centre course at Barnet and Southgate College.

During the visit, Emmanuel talked to the students about the opportunities he’d been given as a result of studying on the course and the importance of hard work on and off the pitch.

The Education and Football Development Centre programme is one of the Foundation’s flagship projects offering students a chance to study a full-time BTEC level 1, 2 or 3 or Extended Diploma and NVQ level 2 courses with the potential to continue onto a foundation degree in Sports Development and Coaching run by Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.

Below: Emmanuel speaks to pupils at Barnet and Southgate College


In August 2016, over 200 students - both males and females - enrolled on to the programme which is delivered in partnership with a number of local colleges including Barnet and Southgate College, St Thomas Moore Catholic School, Epping Forest College, Harrow College, Waltham Forest College, Haringey Sixth Form Centre and Turnford School.

Since the programme launched in 2010, more than 870 young people have been given the opportunity to study a full-time BTEC level 2 or 3 and NVQ level 2 or 3 courses. Meanwhile, two graduates from the course are now playing professional football, with more than 20 earning trials at professional clubs.

The programme forms part of Tottenham Hotspur’s commitment to providing life-changing opportunities and a pathway for young players through to our own Academy.

Osadebe said: “It was great to be able to return to Tottenham Hotspur Foundation’s Education and Football Development Centre programme at Barnet and Southgate College.

“I will always be thankful for the opportunity I had to study there as it provided me with invaluable knowledge to help me progress as a footballer, as well as helping me greatly in my personal development.

“I hope that by visiting today, current students will be inspired to reach their full potential during their time on the programme, and the years after leaving it.”

Grant Cornwell MBE, CEO, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, said: “We’re proud of the work delivered through our Education and Football Development Centre programme which has provided just under 1,000 young people with life changing opportunities since 2010.

“Our coaches work to channel students’ passions for football into learning and employment, raising their awareness and aspirations for a wide range of careers available within the sports industry.

“A special thanks to Emmanuel for coming back to Barnet and Southgate College to share his inspirational story with the students who have just started their studies with us.”

Below: Emmanuel back at Barnet and Southgate College


Johnny Fitsou, Curriculum Manager for Sport at Barnet and Southgate College said: “We’d like to congratulate Emmanuel on his success so far, he’s been a great inspiration to our current football students. The football programme run from the Southgate campus in conjunction with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation is an excellent opportunity for girls and boys who want to combine their education with expert football training. The programme has grown over the years and has led to students going onto play for UK teams, US football scholarships, Higher Education and employment opportunities within sports industries.”

If you’re interested in finding out about the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation Education and Football Development Centre programme, please visit or contact