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Ex-young footballers launch their cyber-career

Cybersecurity training specialist Hack the Box and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) practice SureCloud are among those who have lent their support to a new program designed to help train and retrain former youth football stars for careers in cybersecurity.

The occasional high-profile incident aside, the world of cybersecurity and the world of professional football may seem poles apart, but according to a 2021 survey by Sky News, there are between 10,000 and 12,000 children at any one time in the development of young people in English football. system, and only 0.5% of them will earn a living playing professionally, and of those, a tiny 0.012% will play a single minute in a Premier League game.

So, with English football losing thousands of youngsters every year and a massive cybersecurity talent shortage, sports consultancy Phoenix, Sport & Media Group (PSM), a specialist in upgrading, spotted an opportunity to help train and develop safety. talent among former young footballers, and developed and launched a new program called Cyber ​​Stars.

PSM enlisted a number of companies to help with the development of Cyber ​​Stars in addition to SureCloud and Hack The Box – which provided its HTB Academy service as a learning platform for the program. Among them were BlueScreenIT, a Plymouth-based e-career developer, and certification specialist CompTIA.

The initiative has been designed to go beyond traditional cyber training and has been carefully tailored to help students take their first steps into the often confusing world of cybersecurity, with a series of courses covering offensive and defensive tactics and threat intelligence.

Under the auspices of the scheme, the first cohort of footballers-turned-cyberpros graduated earlier in July at a ceremony hosted by Liverpool Football Club.

“At Hack The Box, we are committed to creating a safer cyberworld by making cybersecurity training accessible to everyone,” said Haris Pylarinos, Founder and CEO of Hack The Box. “Anyone can join and start learning and practicing cybersecurity from theory to action.

“With this in mind, Hack The Box has supported the PSM Cyber ​​Stars program, providing cybersecurity training to a select group of athletes eager to explore a new line of work and as such providing a pathway to these people to a new career opportunity. ”

SureCloud Vice President Ben Jepson added, “At SureCloud, helping the next generation of cybersecurity professionals is something we are passionate about. The UK e-skills shortage cannot last and it is up to us as an industry to demonstrate how exciting and rewarding a career in the digital space can be.

Carly Barnes, CEO of PSM, a sports lawyer with a UK motorsport background, said: “We are extremely proud to have successfully launched this course, and even prouder to see the first ever students graduating from such a renowned venue. . .

“These new graduates are about to start new careers in the IT industry and we can’t wait to see how they progress over the months and years.”

Early graduates include Josh Sumner, a former Liverpool FC Academy player, and Ciaren Jones, who once captained Norwich City’s Under-23 side.

Sumner said he was “devastated” to have had to leave Liverpool aged 19 after a seven-year placement. “Football was all I knew,” he said. “But I am now 28 and can say that the Cyber ​​Stars program has launched me into an exciting new career in IT and cybersecurity.

“It was always something that interested me, but it gave me the opportunity to take the first step into real life in the sector.”

Jones, who joins SureCloud as a consultant, said: “I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did because all I’ve ever known was football. I definitely got out of my comfort zone but I discovered a new passion for cyber.

“The support from SureCloud throughout the process has been incredible. I now look forward to moving up the ranks, learning more about areas of hacking that I am passionate about, and gaining new skills. And I will continue to kick a ball – part-time, of course.

Looking ahead, Barnes said she hopes to expand the Cyber ​​Stars initiative to other sports, including athletics, cricket and rugby, and also hopes to offer targeted classes for women and alumni. Paralympians.

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