Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ex-Rugby pro hits academic heights

After spending a number of years playing professional and semi-professional rugby league, Andy Grundy reached a crossroads in his working career.

With no higher education qualifications or other trade to fall back on, Andy decided to undertake a UCLan Foundation Degree in Sports Coaching at associate college, Wigan & Leigh.

Realising the importance of choosing a subject he was passionate about, Andy's ultimate aim was to pursue a career as a Sports Lecturer or Physical Education Teacher.

He commented: "I wanted to follow my passion and work in sport. My drive to become a lecturer was to give students direction, and to reinforce the endless possibilities of what can be achieved and gained, not only through sport, but also through the undertaking of academic learning and achievement.

"The route of study I chose offered me the flexibility to still continue to work, which was important as a mature student. I completed two years at Wigan and Leigh, learning the fundamental building blocks to take me onto my final top-up year at UCLan."

Andy admits his early days at UCLan were daunting, but he was intent on embracing the University culture, and utilising every resource to help him achieve what he'd set out to do.

"I took every opportunity to pursue, learn, develop, and progress that was placed at my disposal by exceptional members of staff, who would go the extra mile to help and challenge you to do better," said Andy.

"I completed my top-up year with a First Class Honours Degree, which was fantastic, and more than made up for the lost hours of sleep, and time, which I'd devoted to ensure everything I submitted was the best I could give.

"On top of all this, and more importantly for me, I'd learned so much. It had infused my appetite to continue to study, and pursue a career within the field of sports delivery, particularly in an academic teaching role."

Andy continued his personal development by undertaking a UCLan PGCE at Wigan & Leigh and securing part-time employment in a local high school. Whilst working at the school he began a UCLan Master's Degree in Physical Education and School Sport.

He added: "The Master's is diverse with regards to the module contents, for example covering pedagogical aspects of secondary teaching and delivery. It also enabled me to continue to work closely within the sports coaching remit as the modules crossed over somewhat into both categories.

"Just over a year into my studies I became a full-time Sports Lecturer at UCLan's associate college, Myerscough in Preston. Whilst studying at ULCan I've married, had two children, moved house, secured the part-time job and now this full-time role.

"I wouldn't have been able to have undertaken all these experiences and challenges without the support mechanisms that are in place at UCLan which, in my opinion, are second to none; with excellent lecturers, facilities and flexibility, which provides the more mature student the best opportunity to gain the most from the courses on offer.

"I'm due to graduate with my Master's in December, and I'm looking forward to having my daughter in the graduation picture, alongside my son and wife who've been by my side at the last two graduation ceremonies.

"I undertook the Master's for many reasons; to learn, challenge and to achieve are amongst many, but also to gauge my level of academic ability, keeping in mind my family and work commitments.

"I've been able to really push and stretch my own personal ability, and I've realised I'm capable of managing a higher level of study. This has now led me to begin the early stages of discussing the possibilities of commencing onto PHD study over the next 12 months, and I am fully looking forward to this challenge.

"I cannot think of anywhere else I would like to undertake the study than at UCLan, and I really cannot thank the members of staff enough for all their help and support."

Friday, 24 October 2014

Lancashire Wolverines: coaching opportunites

Lancashire Wolverines are on the lookout for new coaches for both their junior and youth teams.

The Juniors (age 16-19) are one of the most successful in the UK, having repeatedly made the National Championship final in recent years, producing lots of talented individuals along the way.

In order to keep that growth and development going the juniors are looking to recruit a number of positional coaches to aid the current coordinators. This is an ideal starting point for prospective coaches and an excellent place to learn the art of coaching.

The new Youth team (age 14-16) is looking to recruit offensive and defensive coordinators to aid Head Coach Sean Wilcock. These roles will also be responsible for helping to recruit players and could be an excellent place for a junior player to continue to learn the art of American Football and begin to learn the art of coaching.

Knowledge of the sport is desirable though not necessary, as candidates will be working under the guidance of some of the finest and most reputable coaches in the UK and will receive coaching themselves.

Please email Lancashire Wolverines for further details.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Coaching opportunities

We recommend our students gain as much practical coaching experience as possible during the course of their studies.

A number of local organisations are currently seeking coaches for their programmes.

The Sir Tom Finney Soccer Centre and Football Club are looking for students to support the running of their weekly soccer centre, football teams and disability teams.

There are seven junior football teams (ages 6-12) who train at UCLan Sports Arena on a Wednesday nights.

They all have managers but need coaches to help them along their way. As part of this you will also be mentored in how to coach by experienced level 2 and UEFA B coaches who are always on hand and happy to answer any questions or give guidance.

There is also disability team training on a Friday night at Play Football in Preston from 6-7pm. They have 30+ players and also compete in disabled tournaments which are organised on Sundays (not every).

The Sir Tom Finney Soccer Centre runs on Saturday mornings 11.30am-12.30pm at UCLan Sports Arena. This offers football for players aged 4-13 and is a pay-as-you-play centre, with currently over 70 children attending.

Myerscough JFDC are looking for coaches to support their junior female football sides. Assistance is needed on a Tuesday evening for training sessions which are held at Myerscough College between 7-8pm. The opportunity is there, not only to support sessions, but to plan and deliver your own ideas and take a hands-on role at the club.

If you would like to get involved in any of the above please email Sarah Nickless.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Students given 'real world learning'

Undergraduates on our programme benefit from industry engagement throughout their time at UCLan.

Guest speakers are a regular feature of the Division's teaching, whilst students also enjoy numerous visits to areas of interest away from the University.

These have included a trip to Sportesse Performance Training Centre, who welcomed final year students for a tour of their excellent facilities in Chorley.

Visits like this support the learning experience, enabling our students to witness coaching in a real world environment.

Top names from the coaching world are regularly on campus to share their expertise. Dave Elliott, England National Academy Coach for the Rugby Football League (RFL), recently spent a morning on discussing his progression from playing the game to operating as an Elite level coach, with a particular focus on the technique of 'player profiling'.

In early 2015, top female coach Amanda Wilkinson will discuss her experiences of coach/athlete relationships. Amanda was the UK's first female level 3 coach and is the current England Students' Head Coach for the RFL.

Other upcoming events for include guest lectures by Sean Brown (British U23 Champion Olympic Weightlifter), Craig Richards (Coaching Systems Lead for GB Taekwondo) and a visit to Reebok CrossFit Spectrum in Preston.

Second year students also further their learning through guest speakers and industry visits. These include a trip to Preston North End FC to meet staff from the Football in the Community programme, plus guest talks by Derek Egan, County Development Manager for the Lancashire Football Association, and Dave Rotheram, Head of Talent and Player Development at the RFL.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Students to lead life-changing trip

Carlton, Rebecca, Jessica & Luke
A group of UCLan students have been rewarded for their efforts on a charity project by being chosen to lead an upcoming trip to Africa.

Final year undergraduates Jessica Martin, Rebecca Neill, Luke Daniels and Carlton Evans have been appointed Team Leaders for the UCLan Sport for Development Project 2015.

They will coordinate next year's visit to Zambia, where students from different study routes will team up to make a difference to children's lives.

Working in partnership with agencies such as Sport in Action and Zambia-based Edusport, Senior Lecturer Cliff Olsson created the project to provide students with an opportunity to study the global value and contribution sport can make in one of the poorest areas of the world.

The projects rely upon the goodwill of voluntary sports leaders from the compounds who work with some of the most vulnerable children in the world with only the most basic of resources, delivering key life skill messages through activities and games.

Jessica said: "The impact the project has on the communities, and the satisfaction we got from the experience last year, is what made us apply for the team leader positions. We're excited to be a part of the project this year and see it from a different perspective as team leaders.

"We hope to be confident and competent to be able to guide and influence the students involved with the project. It will help supplement our leadership skills, which will work to our advantage in future careers as well as opening up new opportunities and options within sport for development."

Cliff commented: "The Team Leaders were selected on the basis of making an outstanding contribution to the project last May/June and have been appointed on the basis of demonstrating excellent leadership. It's a great opportunity for them to make an impact in real world environment, whilst giving them the chance to enhance their CV's."

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Coaching opportunity

Penwortham Town are looking to recruit one or two coaches to work with their Under 7 Blue team.

This is a great opportunity to develop your coaching experience and enhance your CV. The team train indoors on Tuesdays, 7-8pm, at All Hallow's Secondary School, Penwortham. Games take place on Saturday mornings at Penwortham Holmes.

For further information please email Lesley Parkinson or Tel: 07722 232975.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

UCLan supports rising Skiing star

Sports Psychologist Amy Whitehead has been helping promising skier Bethany Widdup ahead of the upcoming winter season.

Amy (left) has used her expertise to support Bethany as she bids to represent Great Britain at the World Junior Championships in Norway.

Bethany teamed up with Amy last year after the Colne youngster was awarded a grant and support from UCLan as part of the Lancashire Rising Star Fund scheme.

The project, in association with Lancashire Sport Partnership, Lancashire County Council and UCLan, awards the grants to individuals to cover costs such as travel, training, accommodation, competition fees, and equipment.

In addition, each recipient receives a package of support from UCLan which includes strength and conditioning services, nutritional advice and support and access to UCLan sports and training facilities.

Bethany said: "I'd never received this kind of structural support before and I can really see the benefits now. Amy has been helping me stay focused in preparation for the new season. My main aim is to qualify and then be selected for the Would Juniors in Norway."

Bethany has attended training camps in Italy and Chile during the summer, before returning to the UK to work with Amy along with undertaking some intensive fitness sessions. She will complete her preparations with a 10 day glacier camp in Austria.

Amy commented: "Bethany has done extremely well over the last year. She has worked incredibly hard both on and off the slopes and it has really shown in her results.

"We have had several meetings over the last three weeks to get Bethany's mind ready to step up to the next level and be ready to qualify for the World Juniors, and I have no doubt she will achieve the goals we have set."

Monday, 13 October 2014

Cricket star aims to join Elite coaching ranks

As an international cricketer, Atiq-uz-Zaman's wicketkeeping career amounted to one Test and three ODIs for Pakistan in 2000.

Atiq took five catches in his one Test against Sri Lanka, and was recognised as one of the best keepers in his country, but found his path blocked by Moin Khan and Rashid Latif. Between 1991 and 2003, if one of them wasn't keeping, the other was and few others got a chance.

He played for a number of first-class sides in Pakistan in addition to playing club cricket for St Annes CC. With retirement from playing the game looming, Atiq decided to pursue his ambition to be a top level coach – someone who could make a difference. "I initially went to UCLan's partner Myerscough College to study a Foundation Degree in Sports and Exercise Science," said Atiq.

"When I completed the course my tutor put me in touch with Bryan Jones at UCLan who recommended a Master's in Sports Coaching. It was the best decision I've ever made – the teachers were fantastic and the learning environment was great. I've successfully completed my studies and really feel my coaching has improved.

"My ambition now is to work at an Elite level. I've been appointed as Head Coach of Sui Southern Gas Company cricket team in Pakistan and hopefully this will set me on my way to coaching at international level - either in England or elsewhere in the world."

Course Leader Craig Wright said Atiq's experience of playing international cricket was a useful addition to the learning environment for other students. He commented: "An important aspect of the MA Sports Coaching programme is shared learning and reflecting on each other experiences, strengths, weakness, values and beliefs.

"Having played and coached at professional level in the UK and Pakistan, Atiq was able to share interesting insights into the complexities of high performance sports while working with challenging individuals and situations.

"Despite being a vastly experienced coach Atiq benefited from engaging with formal assessments, workshop and professional decisions, as they encouraging him to explore important pedagogical issues underpinning coaching which he was not previously aware of. This in turn further developed his coaching ability."

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Voluntary Football Coaching opportunity

Preston's College/AFC Fylde Academy Development Team are looking for a voluntary assistant football coach.

Training takes place at the College on Tuesday's 3-4pm, with games on Wednesday's, 12.30-4pm.

For more information please email Adam Sherratt or Tel: 01772 225457.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Graduates progress into professional football

A series of work placements paid dividends for two Sports Coaching graduates as they secured roles in professional football.

Michael Vernon made use of the links UCLan has with a number of clubs to gain experience as a Performance Analyst.

In addition to working for Preston North End Women FC, he spent some time with Bury FC first team. Michael also gained a great insight into the lives and routines of elite athletes while working as a Lead Coach and Analyst for Olympic athletes based at UCLan during London 2012.

After graduating, Michael took a placement at Burnley FC where he worked for a full season, before accepting a full-time role at Shrewsbury Town ahead of the 2014/15 season.

During the course of his studies, Tom Hart carried out performance analysis for Curzon Ashton, Blackpool Ladies FC, AFC Fylde and the Wales Women's senior team during their World Cup campaign.

After graduating Tom began an internship with Bolton Wanderers to work within Academy, but he was quickly recommended for a full-time role at Oldham Athletic.

Tom said: "The opportunity came up to work at Oldham alongside their manager, Lee Johnson, the First Team coaches and players. I went for an interview, which was followed by a 10 day trial and then the offer of a contract.

"I'm providing post match video analysis to assist in the feedback process to players following every first team game, as well as creating extensive pre-match opposition reports and analysis outlining different areas of the oppositions players, including strengths and weaknesses and looking at previous formations.

"The club also use an external company to provide us with team and individual statistical reports from each game. We use that to help within the feedback process if necessary as well as update the statistical database we've set up at the club."