Football Dreams: The Academy: Channel 4 release date of Crystal Palace series, trailer - and how to watch

Documentary series Football Dreams: The Academy follows the staff and boys at the prestigious Crystal Palace Academy

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New Channel 4 sports documentary series Football Dreams: The Academy follows young players at the Crystal Palace Academy.

Crystal Palace is a top flight club, having been in the Premiere League for every season since 2013 and overcoming a decade-long period of decline that began in the late ‘90s.

Interviews with young players and staff feature throughout the series, providing an idea of how hard it is to break into professional football.

Filming for Football Dreams: The Academy took place over 12 months at Crystal Palace FC AcademyFilming for Football Dreams: The Academy took place over 12 months at Crystal Palace FC Academy
Filming for Football Dreams: The Academy took place over 12 months at Crystal Palace FC Academy

What is The Academy about?

The Academy follows several young boys who are on the first step of a journey they hope will lead them to the top flight of British football.

The documentary explores the relationship between staff, players, and their families at Crystal Palace FC Academy where future football legends will be developed.

Previous alumni from the academy include England manager Gareth Southgate, as well as Wayne Routledge, Wilfried Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Not everyone will make it at the academy, and there is heartbreak for some players as difficult decisions must be made.

Filming took place over a year at the academy, and follows players as young as eight and up to 18, on different stages in their football careers.

The documentary is mostly told through the words of the young players themselves, as they describe their dreams and explain why football means so much to them.

Kayen with his brothersKayen with his brothers
Kayen with his brothers

We also hear from the boy’s families, who have encouraged their children to pursue their goals, and some of whom want them to succeed at any price.

Coaches and support staff also share their insights as they help to mould the young players, and discuss whether some are more likely to make it than others.

In the first episode of the series, one 11 year old boy is expected to reach 5ft 6 when he is fully grown, and the staff think of ways to offset his height disadvantage, pointing out that Lionel Messi is only 5ft 7.

Club chairman Steve Parish said: "I think supporters will find it both a great watch and a fascinating insight into what it takes to succeed in an elite academy, as well as all the huge benefits and life lessons for each boy that we have in our care.

"I’m so proud of all those who contributed. While the series naturally focuses dramatically on the retain/release process, you will see first-hand the caring, committed and passionate staff, the role of parents and of course the first-class facilities."

Who is in the cast?

The series is narrated by Crystal Palace fan, actor and comedian Ben Bailey-Smith, also known by his stage name Doc Brown.

Smith has appeared in the drama shows Suspicion and The Split as well as comedy series Bounty Hunters and Derek.

He also featured on another documentary about the club, When Eagles Dare: Crystal Palace F.C., which followed Palace’s resurgence from administration in 2010.

The first episode of The Academy will follow three 11 year old boys, Kayden, Kairo, and Bolal, who have played football together since they were five.

These boys will face a tough decision at the academy that could lead to their friendship group being split up.

The second episode will follow another three boys, Harry, Jessie, and Romie as they fight to earn a contract.

Each episode features new young players who have dreams of being taken on by the academy and becoming Premier League players.

Is there a trailer?

Yes there is, and you can watch it right here:

When is The Academy on TV?

The Academy will begin airing on Channel 4 on Tuesday 11 August at 9pm.

There are six episodes in the series, each of which are one hour long, and they will air at the same time weekly.

Episodes will also be available to watch on All 4 shortly after they are first broadcast.