Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Coaching graduates spread their wings

Our Sports Coaching and Sports Development programmes provide a platform to many varied careers in the world of sport.

Kyle Wiffen and Charlie Hay graduated with Coaching degrees in 2009, but both are now working in different areas of the industry.

During his time at UCLan Kyle gained performance analysis experience by working at Preston North End and Bolton Wanderers' Academy.

After graduating he went on to work in various roles across first-team, reserves and academy settings at Cardiff, Ferencvarosi TC, Manchester City and Fulham.

Kyle joined Liverpool in October 2012 as the club's U18s performance analyst and is delighted with the route his career has taken.

"The knowledge I developed at UCLan, coupled with the experience I gained with North End during the course of my degree, has really helped me to get where I am today," said Kyle.

"Although I'm not coaching, my role allows me to create an environment for young players to be unique, to progress and to learn. For anyone considering their future career path I'd simply say if you have a goal stick to it; you won't go far wrong."

Charlie also supported his studies with outside activities including volunteering for a Youth Intervention Agency, along with numerous coaching roles.

He went on to gain coaching experience in ice hockey with Blackburn Hawks, Bristol Pitbulls and Solent & Gosport Devils, before signing a three-year contract with Kenai River Brown Bears in the North American Hockey League.

After returning to the UK Charlie continued to coach ice hockey, but also secured a role as Business Development Manager with ambitious non-league club AFC Fylde and is soon to become their Academy Director. He says it's vital students look beyond the academic side of things.

"Half of what I learned on my degree was outside of university. Gaining experience away from your course is crucial if you want to be a success. I wouldn't have got to where I am without my degree, and it's important you furnish your CV with volunteering, internships and work experience wherever you can get it."

Monday, 17 February 2014

UCLan cements partnership with RFL

Dave Rotheram
'You can't teach an old dog new tricks' is often used as a put-down to people who aren’t necessarily in their first flush of youth. Dave Rotheram is proof that age doesn't need to be a barrier to personal development.

He graduated from West London Institute in 1990, and spent 12 years working in education. The ex-London Broncos rugby league player turned professional in 2002, before progressing into a successful coaching career including two World Cups, a Challenge Cup win and a Super League leaders trophy with Leeds.

After leaving his role as Head Coach of Workington Town in 2009, Dave found himself lacking in confidence and suffering low self-esteem due to a fear of failing again. He was soon back on track after securing a role with the Rugby Football League (RFL) and embarking on a UKCC Level 4 in Rugby League and a PGDip at UCLan.

Dave says it was a fantastic opportunity to rebuild his self-belief: "It was a great change for me to be in a new environment. Coaching can be a lonely place so it was great to retrain around like-minded people. In addition to people from a rugby background, there were coaches from Basketball, Squash, Hockey and Table Tennis and it was wonderful to be able to share ideas and experiences."

With his passion for coaching reignited, Dave took on the role of Scotland Assistant Coach in the build up to RLWC2013. The Scots tournament budget was small in comparison with some of the bigger nations, yet Dave and Head Coach Steve McCormack laid down a blueprint for success.

"In reality we were never going to win the competition, but reaching the quarter-final at Headingley was an achievable target. We developed communication and trust with the players and asked them to buy into the culture of what we wanted to do.

"We kept it simple, focusing on team bonding and how the team would function at the tournament. They were asked to respect the nation's history and tradition, with honesty, competitiveness and fearlessness becoming our trademarks."

After beating Tonga and drawing with Italy, The Scots sealed their dream quarter-final versus New Zealand with victory against the USA.

Dave has now secured funding to establish a knowledge transfer partnership between UCLan and the RFL. Working with Professor Dave Collins and his team at the Institute of Coaching and Performance, Dave is looking to improve players, resulting in better games thus enhancing the overall product.

A number of scholarships will be made available to players, while there will be numerous learning and work experience opportunities for UCLan students across a variety of courses as a result of the collaboration.

"What you learn at university is highly applicable to the world of work," said Dave. "Hopefully my experiences show what you can achieve if you set your mind to it."

Monday, 10 February 2014

Age is no barrier to ambition

Clare Carson's story is proof that age doesn't need to be a hindrance to your personal development.

The Crusaders and Northern Ireland Ladies football international graduated from UCLan's Sports Development and Coaching programme in 2011, and is now changing the lives of youngsters in her homeland. We caught up with Clare to find out more.

Tell us about your time at UCLan:

"I studied a Sports Development and Coaching top-up degree and graduated with a 2:1. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I wish I'd done my full degree at UCLan. Even though I was 28 I learned a lot about myself.

"I gained a lot of new skills and it provided a great insight into sport development that I hadn’t seen before. I was privileged enough to work with great lecturers who went out of their way to help me. The network of people and organisations I met during my time there has been invaluable."

What are you doing now?

"I currently work as an Irish Football Association (IFA) Primary School Coach in the Newry and Mourne area of Northern Ireland. There are a total of 32 coaches funded by the Department of Education for Northern Ireland (DENI) and my role is to teach the fundamentals of sport to primary children in years one to four. These include spacial awareness, balance and coordination.

"We incorporate these through football, ideally once they are competent in the basics. Our job provides children with the tools to play a wide range of sports and gives them the skills to participate longer, helping them take part in active life styles."

What sort of challenges do you face?

"No day is ever the same – the kids can be very complex and challenging. I work with a range of children with many different needs, both physical and learning, and I’m tasked with providing inclusive, fun sessions that aid their development. Previously I was purely focused on coaching football to older ages, so this has definitely widened my experience."

Away from coaching you've enjoyed a successful time as a footballer. Tell us about this.

"Where to begin! I play for Crusaders Women's Football Club, who have been the Premier League champions six times in the last eight years. I've played in European competitions and been to some beautiful countries, including Austria, Croatia and Slovenia.

"At international level I've played since I was 24 and been privileged enough to travel to many countries. Last year we played at the Cyprus Cup against South Africa, South Korea and Republic of Ireland. Being capped by my county is one of the greatest achievements of my life - nothing compares to standing for the national anthem on game day."

What are your your long-term aspirations?

"I'd always envisaged being a teacher and I guess to a certain extent that’s what I am, but it’s made me rethink what’s involved in education and how there are additional ways of educating children.

"I also coach at the IFA County excellence development squads and find this to be great experience. In the future I would like to do a top-up PGCE and also aim to coach at elite level age groups.

"One other thing I’m very keen to do is a Master's degree. Hopefully in the next five years I’ll have at least a couple of these completed. Eventually I hope to be either a lecturer or progress into a higher role with the IFA."

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Student boosts career prospects through volunteering

We recommend all our undergraduates gain work experience to help their future job prospects.

Lee Marshall hopes his volunteer work for the University's Sport 4 U programme will be the first step on the ladder to a career in sport. The 2nd year Sports Coaching student was rewarded for his efforts on the scheme at the recent Preston Volunteer Awards.

Lee assisted with promotion of the project, which helps motivate students by increasing their participation in a variety of sports.

In addition to working on Futsal and Badminton sessions, Lee led the delivery of the Preston Schools' Tag Rugby tournament, which was attended by the Irish Rugby League team during their stay at UCLan.

Speaking after the awards ceremony at Preston College Lee said: "I was really pleased to have been given the award for my volunteering, as I feel I put a lot of hard work into Sport 4 U.

"I don't volunteer for the rewards, but it's nice to feel my hard work has not gone unnoticed. Sport 4 U has allowed me to develop leadership skills, which will help me when I start looking for a job in the world of sport.

"Through working for the team I have made good friends and have met and got to know a lot of new people, which in turn has helped me work on improving my social skills. I've enjoyed working as part of the team, and look forward to continuing to work for them in the future.

"It means a lot to have been nominated by Sport 4 U leaders Rick and Danielle, and it's great to know they appreciate the work I've done."