He may have played in the Championship aged just 19, but James Caton is adamant his biggest achievement to date is his BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management degree. Recently signed by National League side Dover Athletic, the soon-to-be UCFB Etihad Campus graduate tells us how it feels to secure a contract with the club and how UCFB’s Academy team helped him achieve the goal…

Congratulations on signing for Dover Athletic! How does it feel? 

It feels great. It’s been a long 16 months without a club because of the situation regarding coronavirus which has made things a lot more difficult. This has meant that a lot of long, hard hours have gone into training on my own and making sure I am ready for any opportunity so it feels very sweet and deserved. I am over the moon to have signed for Dover Athletic ahead of this coming season. 

What are you most looking forward to about playing for the team? 

Mainly the opportunity to have a great platform to showcase my talent in a fantastic league against so many great teams with the coverage live on BT Sport!

How has your BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management degree helped you in achieving this goal? 

Studying at UCFB has not only improved my knowledge of many aspects of football, but it has helped to create an increased level of discipline that has been required to ensure that I meet deadlines. This new found discipline has carried over when performing any football related exercise so that no stone is left unturned.

You also played for the UCFB Academy in Manchester. How did you find this and playing alongside your classmates?

Being involved with the UCFB Academy was great. It was run very similarly to a professional club with training in the morning and physio and video analysis on site. This was a great incentive for players to get a feel for what it’s like as a full-time footballer. Many of my team mates also enjoyed it! 

What was your favourite match you took part in with the academy?

I would probably say when we beat Bangor University very convincingly 6-1 to win the title in my first year at UCFB! It was a great feeling and all of the lads involved fully deserved the reward of a title for our amazing season.

Has England's success in the Euro's inspired you in your own game in any way? 

It’s not inspired me exactly, however, it has been absolutely amazing to see England get so close to winning the Euros! Sadly, we couldn’t get over the final hurdle but to experience a final for the first time in my life is very exciting, and the Euros fever and atmosphere will be remembered for many years.

How have you found your time at UCFB?

My time at UCFB has been fantastic. Very difficult – which is expected when doing a degree – but the difficulty has been worth it to have finally graduated with a 2:1 in Football Coaching & Management. It has been the biggest achievement of my life so far in my opinion, eclipsing making my debut in the Championship at 19 for Blackpool FC. This is due to the sheer work load, commitment and challenges that doing a degree entails. 

What advice would you give to other aspiring footballers looking to study at UCFB?

I am not afraid to admit I was skeptical of doing a degree at first. But honestly, it’s been the best thing I have done. Football is a short career and if whilst playing you have the opportunity to explore other avenues that can be added to your résumé, whether that’s coaching badges, a degree or starting another business, it will definitely help with the transition further down the line. My main advice would be make the most of every opportunity!