One year in the job – A sport therapist reflection

You’ve just crossed the graduation stage to receive the degree that you’ve spent the last 3-years working so hard for and are sharing a celebratory drink with your family, friends and (former) lecturers. What could make this moment any better? A phone call from the professional football club you had spent the last 6-months on placement with offering you a full time job!

This was the reality that 2016 Sports Therapy graduate Kyle Fairgrieve experienced just over 12 months ago. Having just completed his first year in employment, Kyle has taken some time consider how this year has gone, and offer his thoughts for any new graduates setting out on a similar path.

Who are you currently working for?

Port Vale FC



What are the typical duties you carry out on a day to day / week to week basis?

As the clubs Sport Therapist my daily duties include the assessment and treatment of injured players.  This ranging from the manual therapy work in the treatment room, the conditioning work in the gym or the more functional and return to play work out on the pitch – all depending on their stage of rehab.

Other duties include delivering soft tissue work for all of the first team squad, general monitoring of players fitness levels, match day pitch side cover for the first team and reserves. Then finally ensuring they get the right recovery in – so its pretty full on and varied, but its a challenging environment that I feel I’m thriving in.

What are the most enjoyable / satisfying / best parts about your job?
Winning! Its incredible how happy 3 points over a weekend makes the whole club.

Although seeing a player you have spent time rehabbing from an injury return to the pitch is almost as satisfying!

What has been the hardest thing / biggest learning curve you have faced so far?
The hardest thing I have found is the general demand of the professional game. I went from being a student where I had a lot of free time to now working 6/7 days a week at times and sometimes going 10 days straight!

The key to working effectively is most definitely preparation. The biggest learning thing I have had to learn has probably been to spin plates. I went from seeing 1 client a day to now seeing 5/6 players in the space of an hour or two so you have to be well prepared and learn to think outside the box. 

Now you are working, which parts of your course do you think were most helpful to you?
I think all of it, I don’t think there is something I haven’t used at some point over the last year. Even things I learnt in first year, some of the basics have come in handy!

Did your placement module / experience you gained during your studies help you, and if so how?
I got my job off the back of my placement so I’d be inclined to say yes! I was lucky to work with really a really supportive placement supervisor (the Port Vale Head Physio) on my placement who has since moved on to Cardiff FC, but he helped me immensely. To any student about to go out on placement my advice is to take the opportunity to learn as much as possible on placement, as you never know what it might lead to. Without the placement requirement of my course I wouldn’t have the position I do now.

What advice would you offer to current students due to graduate this year?
Read, read and read, and don’t stop learning. I read more journals in the first 2 months out of uni than I did in 3 years and if I’m being honest, I wish I had took my lecturers advise and done more while at uni. I learnt so much just from little pieces here and there and some of the knowledge I’ve picked up from this has been invaluable! Also, practice your practical skills! You can’t perfect your skills without practicing!

What are your ambitions?
To reach as high as i can within the sport. I am lucky enough to be in full time football at 22 so I’d like to think I’ve got the time to learn, gain the experience and get there. Should I ever decide to leave football though, lecturing is something I’m definitely interested in considering.

Whats next for you over the next 12 months? E.g. learning any new skills, taking on new courses?
In the next year the FA AREA course, learning manipulations techniques and dry needling are all on the horizon. I would also like to complete a masters degree at some point although part-time over 4 years is the most likely pathway in order for me to balance this with my continued work in football.


Kyle, graduated from the BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy programme and Staffordshire. The course has received an National Student Survey Overall Satisfaction score between 94-100% in the last 3 years.  If interested and which to find out more about the programme, please contact the course leader Steve Bateman

Crewe Alexandra FC visit the Sport and Exercise Physiology Laboratories

Crewe Alexandra’s FC first team and under 18s recently visited the sport and exercise physiology laboratories at Staffordshire University as part of their pre-season preparations for the 2017-18 season. The ‘Railwaymen’ completed a series of physiological tests led by our sport and exercise science and strength and conditioning students.

Undergraduate students across all three levels of study were responsible for conducting fitness tests which comprised of measuring players’ body composition, muscular power, muscular strength, and aerobic capacity. The test results provided baseline data to establish players’ fitness having just started their pre-season schedules. With repeat testing likely to occur later on in the season to monitor changes in players’ fitness levels these baseline results support the clubs backroom staff to tailor their training programmes for the appropriate demands of each individual player.

Supervising students throughout this activity was sport and exercise technician, Dr Dean Burt who said, “the experience had provided students with a real insight into the physiology of football. The students who conducted the tests were fantastic and were able to put the skills learnt during their exercise physiology laboratory practicals into real world scenarios working with a group of professional athletes. It is experiences like these that you cannot learn in the classroom, they are vital for student development and their long-term career aspirations, and are part of the reason why Staffordshire University graduates are among the most employable in the UK ”.

We would like to thank Crewe Alexandra for visiting the sport and exercise physiology laboratories. We hope that this is the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship with the football club and wish them all the very best for the season ahead.

For more information about the range of sports course available at Staffs click here           

Staffs Sports Coaching form partnership with Staffordshire F.A.

Staffordshire University would like to announce an agreement with Staffordshire Football Association (Staffordshire F.A.) to become the Football Coaching and Performance courses official partner. 

Staffordshire F.A. will be endorsing the course through their professional streams/networks, and directly supporting the delivery and development of the course commencing September 2018.

This exciting partnership will see Staffordshire University’s relationship with the regional F.A. develop significantly. Staffordshire F.A. will be supporting and delivering internships in community and academy settings, providing work placements for second year students, and providing opportunities for students to undertake significantly reduced CPD courses from The F.A.’s professional development pathway in both Year 1 and Year 2 of the Football Coaching and Performance course.

Course Leader Ashley Gill stated “This partnership with Staffordshire F.A. is excellent for the development of our students. Staffordshire F.A. are a not-for-profit organisation, who invest significant funds back into football at a grass-roots level to increase participation, with an added emphasis on developing women’s football. The opportunities that this partnership presents can only be of benefit to our students and make them that much more employable”

Kevin Staples, Head of Strategy and Investment at Staffordshire F.A., further aded “This is great news for Staffordshire F.A. and we look forward to seeing how we can support the Football Coaching and Performance degree at Staffordshire University”.

These are exciting times ahead at Staffordshire University with the introduction of a new course starting in September 2018, and new links with regional organisations, such as the Staffordshire F.A., and the recent announcement of the new Visiting Fellows that bring industry expertise, training and whole wealth of knowledge and understanding to our University.

For more information on the BSc Football Coaching and Performance accelerated degree, please click here

Staffs Sport & Exercise grows its expertise with two new Visiting Fellows

The School of Sport and Exercise has recently extended our team of industry experts to facilitate our teaching and learning team. We’re very excited to introduce you to two new Visiting Fellows from The Football Association (F.A.) who will be supporting the work within the department from September.

Jack Walton is joining us to provide expertise on grass roots development in sport, with a particular level of expertise in football. Jack has many years experience in designing and delivering coach education programmes, as well as actively coaching teams for both for performance and participation. Jack’s current role at The F.A. is leading and developing F.A. County Coach Developer’s in the North-West. Jack’s expertise and industry experience will be a real coup for the University and help improve the quality of our sport and exercise provision.

Click here to visit  Jack Walton‘s staff profile

In addition to the appointment of Jack, Nick Levett, the currentTalent Identification Manager at The F.A. is also joining us. Nick’s role is in the identification and development of talented athletes that have the potential to play for the England national team, from the senior men’s team to under-15’s in men’s and women’s football. Nick also had devised and delivers the Talent Identification courses for The F.A. Nick’s expertise and industry experience will help enhance the development and quality of a range of courses in the Department of Sport and Exercise   .

Click here to visit Nick Levett’s staff profile.

We are delighted to have both Nick and Jack join us and look forward to a productive and fruitful time here at Staffordshire University! There efforts will be very much appreciated by both students and staff.

New look Sports Coaching courses launch from 2017

Every 5 years the University goes through a process known as ‘revalidation’. The purpose of this revalidation is to scrutinise the suite of courses offered by a department to ensure the courses uphold academic standards, are in-line with industry requirements, and most importantly offer the best opportunity to learn for students.

Following a recent successful revalidation process in May the School of Sport and Exercise have made some exciting changes to the previous Sports Development and Coaching degree. A newly structured and titled BA (hons) Sports Coaching will launch from September 2017, with a further brand-new BSc (hons) Football Coaching and Performance accelerated degree starting from September 2018.

The changes in our sports coaching provision are exciting and dynamic, only serving to improve the quality of the courses we offer and produce more highly skilled, knowledgeable and employable graduates. With student feedback being a key component and catalyst behind these changes , we feel that these changes best allow us to showcase our continued excellence, with students at the forefront of our endeavours.

The new course BSc (Hons) Football Coaching and Performance will be delivered with support and partnership from Staffordshire F.A. and key staff from The F.A. With improvements to the already successful Sport Development and Coaching degree (renamed BA (Hons) Sports Coaching) to better reflect the employment sector, with a development route for those that choose. These changes will only serve to further improve the quality of provision in the sports coaching department, and on the sports coaching course, which scored 97% for student satisfaction rate in the last NSS appraisal.

We’re sure that you will agree that exciting times are ahead for both students and staff in the Department for Sport and Exercise!

For further details on our sports coaching provision, please contact Ashley Gill.
Ashley Gill (BSc., MSc., PGCE, FHEA)
Lecturer in Sports Coaching
Course Leader: BSc Football Coaching and Performance
Teaching Excellence Fellow

Faculty of Health Sciences
School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise
Brindley Building (B182)
Leek Road Campus
Stoke on Trent

The Second Performance Psychology Conference Wednesday 18th October 2017

The Sport and Performance Psychology Group at Staffordshire University are hosting their Second Performance Psychology Conference on Wednesday 18th October 2017.

Following the success of the Inaugural event in October 2016, this year’s conference will bring together world-leading expert practitioners who will share their insights of applying evidence-based approaches to sport, exercise, and performance psychology.

The format of the day includes interactive workshops, keynote speakers, and a panel discussion including international and Paralympic athletes to experienced performance psychologists.

The conference is suitable for practitioners at all levels, from students and trainees to experienced and expert psychologists, and it’s evidence-based focus means the conference will also be of interest to researchers.

Dr Matthew Slater

Staffs Sport & Exercise Team Promoting Females in Sport

Members of the Sport and Exercise team at Staffordshire University, held an event to promote positive female role models, develop a stronger social identity for women, and encourage networking between women who are working and studying in this area. The recently hosted careers event, gave opportunity for our female students, recent graduates and other guest speakers to share their thoughts and experiences regarding the opportunities and barriers that women face in sport. They spoke about: what attracted them to studying sport, and into the job they have currently, as well as the job opportunities/barriers for females who wish to study and work in sport and exercise. Finally, they offered advice to females intending to study and work in a wide variety of sport and exercise professions.

Feedback from the evening reflected how useful the event was and how inspiring personal stories from other women can be and included:Females in Sport Post Event

“The speakers were diverse and interesting to listen to.”

“It was good to hear women’s success stories in sport, which gave me confidence.”

“The case study stories of the presenters were very powerful and personal. This meant that the audience could identify with the authenticity of the speakers and relate it to their own situation.”

Everyone involved in the event were extremely grateful to all the speakers who gave up their time to come and share their stories. We hope that by promoting and encouraging our students (past, present and future), to attend these events, we can inspire them to achieve success in their career within sport and exercise.

If you would like to find out more about activities within sport and exercise, please contact:

Jacky Forsyth,
Relevant blog:

Lynne Duval,
Alison Bambridge,

New Fast Track BSc (Hons.) Soccer Coaching and Performance to begin in Sept 2018

Staffordshire University’s Sports Coaching department are introducing a new accelerated degree in Soccer Coaching and Performance in September 2018*. This course is designed to accommodate a growing need within the sector for sport specific coaching degrees, with this being a specific football focused degree.

The BSc (Hons.) Soccer Coaching and Performance degree is an ‘accelerated degree’, which is delivered over 2 years, instead of the typical 3 for an undergraduate course. The course aims to provide aspiring football coaches from both the U.K and abroad with the opportunity to acquire the appropriate skills, and develop the specific knowledge required to gain employment in the football industry, both in the U.K and internationally.Students at St Georges Park

The course combines aspects of football coaching, performance analysis, professional development and football conditioning. The course is delivered by a highly motivated and well-qualified team of academics, as well as expert UEFA licenced football coaches. Support comes from local partners, which include the English Premier League (EPL) football team Stoke City F.C., Newcastle town F.C., and the Sir Stanley Mathews Coaching Foundation, amongst others. For this reason, there is a work placement opportunity which will provide students with the opportunity to gain a valuable insight in to the inner-workings of a professional football club, or the development of football in the U.K. at a community level.
The course is linked with Staffs F.A., who will provide the opportunity to further professional development by completing football coaching qualifications from The F.A.’s coach education pathway. Furthermore, students will gain insight and experience of using industry standard performance analysis software, for example Focus and Dartfish programmes which are commonly used within professional football clubs.

This accelerated degree will add to the suite of accelerated degree courses currently offered by Sport and Exercise, at present the other being the Strength and Conditioning degree. It is an exciting time for the staff involved and an excellent opportunity for those interested in coaching and specifically football coaching. If you require any further information, then please contact the course leader Ashley Gill (

Sport and Exercise Far East connections continue to develop

Following the success of hosting 60 football coaches from China on a three-month study visit over the 2016 summer term, in November 2016, Dr Jacky Forsyth (Senior Lecturer, Sport and Exercise) and Mr Nigel Lee (International Office) visited various Universities and high schools throughout China as part of a two-week study and career roadshow, organised by the British Council. The objectives of the roadshow were to showcase our courses in sport and exercise and to promote Staffordshire University’s profile, for the purposes of recruiting both undergraduate and postgraduate students to our courses in the future.

The tour involved visits to six different cities (Beijing, Wuhan, Chongqing, Ningbo, Suzhou and Guangzhou, selected by the British Council), incorporating demo classes and meetings at four universities and four schools. This subject-focused roadshow was the first of its kind for the British Council, China, and it was a great opportunity for Staffordshire University to be a part of it.

In the demo classes and career talks, we highlighted what it was like to study and live at Staffordshire University, and students got a taste of how British lectures differ to the customary lecture format in China. We highlighted our current research on the differences between males and females regarding fat oxidation following high intensity interval exercise. The students were able to get involved Basketball session china tourusing our Turning point clickers, engaged in discussion and debate, and learnt about our applied work at the University.

We also met with staff at Chengdu Sport University, Chongqing University and Chengdu Normal University, in order to discuss collaboration opportunities (such as partnerships, and opportunities for research collaborations, and student exchanges). These meetings were only possible because of the recent three-month study visit that we hosted (along with Stoke City FC Community Trust) for 58 Chinese football coaches on behalf of the Federation of University Sports of China (FUSC) and the China School Sports Federation (CSSF). As the coaches have now become Staffordshire University’s alumni, they were able to share their campus and learning experiences with their colleagues and students.

From our experiences of further and higher education in China, we learnt how courses in China in sport and exercise are evolving and growing rapidly, from a strong base on physical education and physiotherapy into sports science and management of sport. From the meetings we had with both the different universities as part of the British Council roadshow, and via our Chinese football coaching alumni, we are very mGroup Photo - china touruch looking forward to future developments and collaborations.

For further information about the sports courses at Staffordshire University please visit our Sport Courses

Sports Therapy Graduates land roles in the NHS

Staffordshire University BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy Graduates Eve Littler, Ryan Baddeley, Chiku Chilufya and Lauren Dicken have all recently landed roles working within the NHS. These four graduates offer further examples of the success stories coming from the Sports Therapy programme , with us having previously reported on our graduates breaking into football and running successful private practices, and illustrates the growing reputation and scope for employment of Sports Therapists within the UK.

Lauren, who graduated in 2014 is working as a Rehabilitation Assistant at the Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust; Eve, a 2015 graduate is working at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, while Ryan and Chiku, 2016 graduates, have landed roles as Physiotherapy Technical Instructor at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (Birmingham) and Band 3 Senior Therapist Assistant at the Wolverhampton New Cross Hospital respectively within 3-months of graduating in July.

Chiku stated “I’m really pleased to have got this job so soon after graduating and excited to be putting my sports therapy skills into practice. I’m hoping the role will give me the chance to apply my skills across a range of different client background to give me experience across different clinical settings and use this as a platform to gain a MSc Physiotherapy”.

chiku-chilufya-nhs (Chiku Chilufya, 2016 graduate)

With the increased recognition of the importance of exercise and rehabilitative therapy to improving public health, it is highly encouraging to see the number of Sports Therapy graduates being employed to apply their skills and knowledge in this sector of the health industry, while further illustrating the value being a Staffordshire Graduate   can have in enhancing our graduates employability.

The Sports Therapy programme at Staffordshire University is one of the most highly ranked accredited Sports Therapy programmes in the UK scoring a National Student Survey score of 97% for Overall Satisfaction, within a Sport and Exercise department ranked 13th in the 2017 Guardian League Table. To find out more about our programme click here or follow us on Twitter @SUSTclinic.