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Pro Kettings graduates in Business & Accounting

chris

Crystal Palace goalkeeper Chris Kettings, who embarked on a distance learning study programme three years ago, has graduated with a degree from the Open University. Chris, who is currently on loan at Bromley explains how he motivated himself to study in between training and playing in matches:

I opened my first textbook in October 2012, completed my last exam in June 2015 and finally graduated from the Open University in October 2015 with a 2:1 in Business and Accounting.

It was a tough 3 years that required a large amount of discipline and self-motivation, but it has to be said, it is a journey that I am very pleased I embarked on. It all started when I was a scholar at Blackpool. I was working very closely with all the goalkeepers at Blackpool, one of them being Paul Rachubka, who at the time was also the club's PFA representative. Paul told me a lot about the university course he was studying for through the Open University, and it was something that immediately appealed to me. I've always been reasonably academic, and I felt that just because I was pursuing a career as a professional footballer, there was no reason why I couldn't better myself in other aspects of life by studying part-time.

Paul was very helpful and talked me through a whole range of possibilities and opportunities, before then putting me in touch with Oshor Williams in the PFA's Education department. Osh offered me a lot of support and guidance, and was extremely instrumental in securing me financial support from the PFA. The bursary I was given each year helped me to purchase equipment such as a new laptop and any stationary equipment I needed to work through my studies, as well as contributing towards the costs of the tuition fees. Osh was brilliant in this regard and constantly kept in touch to see how I was doing.

Thinking back to my experiences throughout my course, I would definitely say that self-motivation was probably the biggest hurdle to overcome. There were days where I would feel productive and everything felt easy, and there were other days where I would come home after training and wish that I could switch off and just watch a film or play on the Playstation for a couple of hours and not have to think.

With this said, I found the main thing that overcomes this problem is to study a subject that you have a genuine interest in or that you enjoy. It was the modules that I did not particularly enjoy or found boring that always seemed to be the most tedious.

Another aid is to have a clear structure over varying timelines and to set out what you want to achieve or complete that day, that week and that month. I would often tell myself I'll read 20 pages and then have a 10 minute break, or by the end of the day I will have this essay finished. Then if I met my targets I would reward myself in some way, taking time away from studying.

Organisation, structure, discipline and self-motivation will benefit any player who is considering part-time study.

For anyone considering undertaking part-time studying of any sort at any level I would highly recommend the Open University. The format of their courses is highly accessible and user-friendly and there is a whole range of support including your tutor, other students as well as a student-support team.

What I would say to other players considering education is to just go for it! It is a process that is very rewarding and that can open a lot of doors. Not only will it give you a Plan B in case anything goes wrong within football, it is a starter for a second career for when the day comes that you retire from the game.

As well, it helps you to grow as a person; it engages your mind and helps you to spend your time away from football productively.

I think a lot of footballers are reluctant to explore education, because they feel once they do this they are accepting the fact that one day they will no longer be a professional footballer.

Speaking to Osh recently and he said something that made a lot of sense to me: "Just because you are a footballer, does not mean that as a person you can't be anything else. Why limit yourself to football when you can be a great deal more?"