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Football Dreams: The Academy and the best sports docs


Football Dreams: The Academy and the best sports docs



A new documentary series follows young Premier League hopefuls as they strive to reach the top. Plus our round-up of the essential sports docs to watch right now

By Chris Miller, Writer + Laura Rutkowski, Senior Staff Writer

Hope. It’s the emotion that keeps everyone going, every day – especially in sport. Every athlete and every fan has suffered through their fair share of defeats, but hope makes it all worthwhile. 


It’s hope that buoys the young subjects of Football Dreams: The Academy, a new documentary series that follows a group of aspiring footballers aiming to work their way up the ranks at Crystal Palace FC. From the makers of Educating Yorkshire and Royal Marines Commando School, this series provides an eye-opening look behind the scenes at a Premier League club, giving an insight into the arduous journey young footballers go on and the impact their all-consuming dedication to the sport has on their families.


If they make it – and the south London club has an impressive record of producing top-class footballers, from Gareth Southgate to Wilfried Zaha – they could become household names and earn millions. If they don’t? Well, that’s where the hope comes in. The six-part series, filmed over the course of a year, will address the risks and realities of trying to follow those dreams.


If your football dreams are more modest – more about winning your workplace’s fantasy football league than the Champions League – then find out who the experts pick with our list of 20 players to watch this season. And fantasy league fans rejoice, because the Fantasy Football League TV show, last on our screens in 2004, will return this autumn on Sky Max!  


When is Channel 4’s Football Dreams: The Academy on TV?

The series begins on Thursday 11 August at 9pm on Channel 4 HD (CH 104/141). The second episode will be available immediately afterwards in Apps & Games > All 4.   


More sports documentaries to enjoy

We can’t get enough sporting documentaries, with their combination of triumph, drama and fascinating insight into real-life heroes. If Football Dreams: The Academy has whetted your appetite, you’ll probably love the new Arsenal: All Or Nothing series on Prime Video – and check out our round-up of the some of the best docs you can watch right now…


1. The Future Of Women’s Football

Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Before England’s triumphant Women’s Euro 2022 tournament even began, former England international turned broadcaster Alex Scott made this eye-opening film looking at where the women’s game could go from here. If you’re hungry for more Lionesses content, delve into the Sky Sports documentary about their brilliant coach, Making A Manager: Sarina Wiegman (Catch Up > Channels > Sky Sports Football).


2. George Best: All By Himself

Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Daniel Gordon (Hillsborough, The Trials Of Oscar Pistorius) directed this documentary on the all-too-short career and troubled life of legendary Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer George Best.

3. 2018 FIFA World Cup: The Official Film

Find it in Apps & Games > YouTube

The best World Cup ever? Quite possibly – and certainly one of England’s as they reached the semi-final. Relive the highs and lows of the tournament with the official film.

4. Freddie Flintoff’s Field Of Dreams

Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

In this three-part series, former England cricketer Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff attempts to prove that anyone from any background can play cricket – with mixed and sometime raucous results.

5. When Snooker Ruled The World

Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Take a closer look at how snooker became one of the most popular sports of the 1980s, with contributions from multiple world champions Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan and more.

6. LFG

Find it in Channels > Catch Up > Sky Documentaries 

The US women’s national football team are far more successful than their male counterparts – but far less well remunerated. This doc tells the story of their hard-fought struggle to achieve equal pay.


7. Cheer

Find it in Apps & Games > Netflix

Follow the Texas-based Navarro College Bulldogs Cheer Team as they prepare to compete in the National Cheerleading Championship in Daytona, Florida. Definitive proof that cheerleading absolutely is a sport!

8. The Edge

Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer 

The frank, funny and emotional story of the England Test cricket team’s rise from the doldrums in 2009 to the top of the world rankings in 2013, including interviews with players such as James Anderson, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss.


9. Inside The Cage: The Rise Of Female Fighters

Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in Britain. Meet the women making names for themselves and testing their limits to become the next champions.   

10. Michael Johnson Meets… Paralympians

Find it in Apps & Games > All 4 

Legendary, gold medal-laden US sprinter Michael Johnson is now a revered commentator and expert, and in this series he met four Paralympians from Team GB – including swimmer Ellie Simmonds – ahead of the Tokyo Olympics to chat about their careers and their goals.


11. The Summer Football Came Home

Find it in Apps & Games > YouTube

Well, it was summer 2022 before football actually came home, but this enjoyably nostalgic documentary explores how the England men’s team’s run to the Euro 96 semi-finals lifted the nation.

12. Dark Side Of The Ring

Find it in Apps & Games > All 4

Each episode covers a specific event within the golden age of professional wrestling – spotlighting its most controversial figures.

How to watch Netflix with Virgin TV

If you have a TiVo® box or Virgin TV V6 box, powered by TiVo®:


Press home on your remote

Select Apps & Games

Select All Apps 

Select Netflix


If you’re already a Netflix subscriber, you can also access the app through Search & Discover or by pressing Red on channel 204. Just sign in with your existing login and start watching. And you’ll only have to log in the first time you use it. 


If you’re new to Netflix, then you’ll need to subscribe to use the app. The easiest way to do this is by going to You can also subscribe using the Netflix app in Apps & Games.

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TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.

HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.

Netflix: Netflix subscription required at extra cost.

Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.