The Spine


20 Stories High Trainee Artistic Director Nathan Powell will create this studio show exploring Youth Football and the Academy system.

Collecting stories from current youth players, professionals and those that never made it to the professional stage, we’ll explore what young men, particularly black men, experience in the hope of making their dreams a reality.

The football academy system promises young men the world, riches and fame, which makes it difficult to acknowledge the minimal success rate (0.012%). This play will explore what happens when there is a risk of that being pulled away and how the pressures of the system manifest in these young men. The story will discuss brotherhood and how we deal with mental health issues in a hyper masculine space.

 We will tell these stories using a blend of live music (Grime, hip hop and Afro Swing) and storytelling, asking questions about the stability of the academy system and explore the sacrifices we make to fulfil our dreams.

Artistic Team

Written and directed by Nathan Powell

Dramaturg - Phillip Osment

Musical Association TBC

We will also work closely with Canterbury Christ Church University masters student and former youth player Nyall Simms, whose thesis is about young black players, to develop a deeper understanding of the academy system and youth football.


Audience Development – Participation

We aim to reach culturally diverse, working-class young people. As a part of the tour we will work with local youth groups that have a focus on music and with football clubs. We will work to create a curtain raiser for the show in partner venues, and a media legacy (podcasts or short documentary), created by the young participants.