Port Vale F.C.
Port Vale F.C. defender Adam Yates is an advocate for professional players gaining qualifications and broadening their employment prospects for their careers after football. Following his own retirement due to injury, Adam is now using the skills and experience gained from a degree at Staffordshire University to work as a Community Business Manager with Synectics Solutions and Head of Community Liaison Officer for Port Vale Foundation Trust.
He said: “I want to use my situation of being a professional football player for 18 years and retiring through injury to encourage other players to set themselves up for life after football. I’m glad to say I’ve been to University to provide some stability after my playing career ended. I want to use what happened to me and work with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) to encourage others to do the same.”
Football player and student
Adam’s career in football began at Crewe Alexandra Academy before turning professional with the club in 2002. During the 2003-04 season, he spent five months on loan at Conference club Halifax Town, before signing for Northern Premier League side Leek Town, where he spent two seasons. He then signed for Morecambe in 2006 and helped the club win promotion to the English Football League the following year. In 2009, he joined Port Vale, where he took over the right-back position. Adam remained with the club, with loans to Northampton Town and Macclesfield Town, until he announced his retirement in March 2018.
Shortly after joining Port Vale, Adam contacted the PFA about broadening his prospects, starting his degree at Staffordshire University in 2011. He explained: “I was well aware of some professional players who trained for six to eight hours a day but we were doing two hours at day and I would be going home at one in the afternoon.
“I decided to contact the PFA and speak to them about my options, what else I could be doing with the time I had. They had a list of universities and degrees specifically aimed at professional players and, of course, Staffordshire University was one of them. Staffs was just down the road from me and the course sounded ideal, so I signed up. Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting appealed as I was interested in potentially becoming a teacher. The course gave me a lot of options.”
The two-year degree saw Adam studying year-round and then spending two intensive learning weeks on campus during the summer break from football. He said: “The University was fantastic with me and so supportive. I had to defer one of the modules because I got a knee injury and had to focus on recovery and the University did everything to make sure I got back on track when I was able again.”
Life after football
After graduating, Adam continued playing football, looking out for opportunities to get involved with the media side of the game. “I had done quite a lot of stuff with the media before – on the radio and match reports – but completing the degree gave me additional opportunities and the confidence to do more. Then after I recently retired, the degree has given me the opportunity to work with Synectics Solutions and the Port Vale Foundation Trust.”
Primarily a data company, Synectics also works closely with the Staffordshire community, with one of the company’s founders, Carol Shanahan, chair of the Port Vale Foundation Trust. Adam was brought onboard to help develop a mentoring programme for primary and secondary school students, using his profile to raise awareness of the initiative.
He said: “I’m looking forward to driving the club’s community initiatives as well as using my experiences to educate fellow players on planning for life after football, which is not something we always consider. Thanks to Staffordshire University, I have found another avenue for my career to take, and I am very keen to see that others are aware of and get the same opportunities I’ve had.”