Ex Rovers defender comes to the Keepmoat to see progress of Club Doncaster Foundation.
Former defender Paul Raven recently returned to where it all began for him as a player at Doncaster Rovers when he visited in his capacity with the Professional Footballers Association (The PFA).
The former Rovers player emphasised the fact that he was still a keen scholar during his playing days and now supports players across the country to receive training and education in order to fulfil their second career ambitions beyond their own playing career.
“Myself, Mark Rankine, Rufus Brevett and Brian Deane all progressed through the youth team to play for the Rovers and enjoyed long careers, but initially I had taken a slightly different route. Whilst the others did their YTS, I had remained in full-time study.
“It became quite bizarre after I’d broken in to the first team at 17 under Dave Cusack and then Dave Mackay as I would report for evening games straight from school. Nevertheless it was a very exciting time.”
Raven would go on to West Bromwich Albion for the next 11 years – a club renowned for breaking down barriers with their trio of black players (Brendon Batson, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis), affectionately referred to as ‘The Three Degrees’ – where he would become a PFA delegate.
“I became the delegate at West Brom and then a member of the PFA Management Committee under Gordon Taylor for around 6 years towards the end of my career.
“It was a great insight in to what The PFA provides in terms of benefits for its members. I’d always stayed in touch and been a PFA union man so it was a natural move to go and work for them and particularly within education.”
During his long playing career most of which was spent in the Championship, Raven went on to complete a Degree in Politics and Social Studies and a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies, so is well qualified to advise footballers and young people interested in sport about combining work and study.
Forty-four year old Raven hailed the facilities at The Keepmoat Stadium and also reserved praise for fellow former professionals Jan Budtz and Tim Ryan for their work within Club Doncaster.
“I manage a project which promotes the learning agenda through the Union Learning Fund which helps us to facilitate more education opportunities for our members and also Football Club Community Trusts around the country - such as Club Doncaster - who we assist with their learning provision.
“The set up here is brilliant and has come a long way since I played at the old Belle Vue - which we all loved - but progress has seen us move to this fantastic facility so I’m delighted. Most football clubs now offer education and work with thousands of young people offering them a pathway to employment in sport, with Club Doncaster leading the pack. It’s very exciting that the clubs have been able to offer this type of education and I only wish it was around when I was young.”
For more info about the education offer at DRFC, visitwww.drfc-education.co.ukor call 01302765890.