Channel 4 has commissioned a new six-part documentary series filming behind the scenes of Crystal Palace’s youth football academy.

The Academy (w/t) will follow the unique relationships between the staff, players and their families at the South London based Crystal Palace F.C. Academy to reveal the work that goes in to developing the next generation of footballing talent.

Filmed over twelve months, the series will capture the hopes and dreams of the Academy squads, and club coaches and staff who help the young players achieve their potential. Aged between eight to 18, these players are all striving to complete the life-changing journey from grassroots football to Premier League star.

One of the most prestigious football academies in the country, the Crystal Palace academy has developed established Premier League stars such as Wilfried Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, as well as the current England manager Gareth Southgate and former Premier League winner Victor Moses. Thirty-two players have come through the Academy ranks in the last 14 years, making more than 1,000 appearances for the club.

The Club recently invested £20m upgrading the Academy, with a major expansion of football facilities and an increased focus on welfare provision and education for players to give them the best possible preparation for life on and off the field.

The series is being produced by South Shore, whose production team’s previous credits include other youth-focussed Channel 4 series Educating Yorkshire and Royal Marines Commando School.

The series is commissioned for Channel 4 by Jonah Weston and Ian Dunkley with Head of Factual Entertainment Alf Lawrie. The series will be executive produced by Andrew Mackenzie; Series Produced by Hannah Lowes and the Series Editor is Alex Kohler.

Jonah Weston said: “The Premier League is the richest football league in the world.  But getting there is an intense journey where few succeed.  I’m excited to be able to share that journey with the Channel 4 audience, as we follow the hopes and dreams of the boys giving everything for their shot at the big time.”

Steve Parish, Crystal Palace F.C. Chairman said: “Our Academy has a rich history in developing world-class footballers, and we are acutely aware that South London has one of, if not the, best footballing talent pools in the world. Having recently invested millions in a state-of-the-art facility upgrade, achieving elite Category 1 status for our Academy in the process, we are extremely excited to take viewers behind the scenes at an elite football institution, as we aim to identify, attract and develop the next generation of Crystal Palace footballers.  It was imperative for us to select a production partner with a track record in working with young people in pressurised environments, and a broadcaster who shares our passion for inspirational and uplifting family programming.”

Andrew MacKenzie CEO, South Shore said “Nowhere else in Britain has the power to change a young person’s life as dramatically as a football academy and to gain this rare access to one the best in the country is an incredible opportunity.”

Jon Creamer