Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ll know that O2 are hosting an amazing opportunity to get involved with touch rugby (you can apply here, btw) but it’s not just about sport. From personal development to helping you master interview techniques it goes way beyond the pitch much like rugby itself, which is why we’ve found 10 roles within the sport you may not have considered but may be perfect for!
If you’re good at maths and love working with numbers but really want to work in the sports industry, being a Sport Statistician may be the role for you. One of the biggest industries that employ statisticians is betting, but there are also positions with sports teams where you’ll be providing analysis on players and team strategy and consultancy for various teams or agencies. Qualifications-wise, research-based positions generally require a postgraduate degree, but other roles may accept an undergraduate degree in maths, statistics or similar. As for skills, whatever role you’re going for you’ll generally need to have an interest in sport, maths and statistics and a knowledge and experience of the relevant software and databases.
How better to merge your passions for photography and sport than to become a Sports Photo Journalist? You’ll be required to take shots for the the team as well as the press at the games . As in any media career, the route can be varied, but as most Photo Journalists are self-employed, it’s important to have a great portfolio and a book full of contacts! You can also start your career as a Journalist or Sports Journalist through work experience, an apprenticeship or a degree (NCTJ-accredited courses are the best), build your contacts and your portfolio and branch out into the world of sports photo journalism.
Having always been a sportsperson Richard Collins knew he wanted a career in sport but then he realised he had a strong interest in people and decided to become a Sports Psychologist while taking his A-levels. He gained an undergraduate degree in Psychology, followed by an Masters in Sports and Exercise Psychology, then a two year training course with the British Psychology Society which is done alongside your job in the industry. For Richard however, he set up his own business, Head for a Win, before studying.
A typical day is quite varied, so if you’re thinking of a career that’s less 9-to-5 then keep reading. Richard teaches on Hartpury College’s degree programme for students who are training to be coaches so a day might involve educating them on sports psychology, holding a workshop with a group of athletes where he talks to them about a principle, and possibly dealing with anxiety before they go and put it into practice.
Richard works with both entire squads to develop things such as communication or a positive culture, and individual athletes who choose to have a Sports Psychologist and see them as an opportunity to improve. “Working individually with athletes depends entirely on what they want to talk about or what we go and do. I try and keep things as practical as possible; it may actually involve just sitting down for a chat or it may involve getting out and doing some drills,” Richard explains.
Work shadowing is hard due to confidentiality, but if you’re interested in a career in the industry Richard suggests having a chat with a Sport Psychologists, going to a number of public talks to get an idea of the job and the industry and if you play sport yourself, then seeing how coaches deal with you and the team.
Performance Lifestyle Manager
Some roles in sport are more popular than others, but as this is one we’d never encountered before we got Ruth Owen-Evans, a Performance Lifestyle Manager at Hartpury College to tell us about it. “It’s a support service offered at Hartpury College and throughout elite level sport whereby high level athletes are given support to manage their ‘life’. This means supporting them with anything outside of their sport specifically, such as education, jobs, finances, moving house, relationships or a balance of something sport and ‘life’ related”. Having support in this area allows the athlete to focus purely on their sport when training or competing without the distraction of unrelated issues.
The role heavily relies on speaking to a range of people so you need to be a people person and you can enter this career through various channels. Ruth gained an undergraduate degree is Events Management and Business, followed by a Masters in Sports Management. “On top of this I combined my academic work with elite level cycling and work experience, ranging from working in Sport Development to a role with a county sport partnership managing a talented athlete bursary scheme,” she says.
Ruth’s days generally consist of one-to-one meetings with athletes, with follow up work after each one so her client knows what action to take before the next meeting, and workshops. “I run workshops for our elite academies on subjects such as Time Management, Managing Your Money, Anti-Doping and Sponsorship, Media and Communication,” she adds. Like the sound of this? As well as academic qualifications, Ruth advises getting some ‘real world’ experience too: “Many of the challenges the athletes are facing are those that I’ve encountered and it’s about being able to coax them through the process to help them come to their own solutions, but being able to relate to what they are going through really helps”.
Strength & Conditioning Coach
We thought the role of a Strength and Conditioning Coach sounded quite interesting so we spoke to Jamie Mola of Bath Rugby Foundation to find out what exactly he does: “I basically look after the physical development of the players. You have a rugby coach that teaches the players how to play better rugby but we make sure the players are in the best physical shape possible so it’s more looking after the body as opposed to the skills side of the sports,” he says.
The route into this career is a mixture of theory and practical, but a degree is a must. Jamie studied Applied Sports Science degree an undergraduate degree and was constantly encouraged by his tutors to develop his practical skills and get internships. “It gives you a good balance between theory in the classroom and the practice on the pitch,” he said, and after interning at a few different clubs he got the job at Bath.
Not taking yourself too seriously is also a good attribute to have, as is being able to develop a rapport with the athletes. Oh, and maybe be an early bird too – Jamie is often in the gym for 6.30am ready to start a weight training session with the players! Jamie’s advice for getting into the role is simple; “Study hard, put yourself out there, apply for internships, learn from athletes and learn how to transfer learning from a book into something practical. That’s really important”.
Matthew Bradford works as a PR Manager for O2 and one of his role requirements is to look after the sponsorship side of the business, specifically rugby. “The easiest way to describe my role is that I’m proactively trying to generate news coverage for this area of the business, so my role involves working with the agencies to come up with a creative idea that gains us some columns in the newspaper,” he explains. Matthew sees this process through the ideas stage at the very beginning to presenting it to stakeholders to providing any supporting content for the journalists.
“Recently I worked on a touch rugby event to promote O2 touch rugby. We surprised a local touch rugby team by getting Danny Care from the England rugby team to come along. He ran a training session so we filmed it, took pictures and issued them out to the local press to showcase the benefits of playing O2 touch and if you play O2 touch, things like this could happen,” Matthew says.
Sounds pretty cool so far. So what skills are required for a role in the competitive world of PR? Being flexible, prepared to work to tight, and often late-night deadlines, working well under pressure, being a good communicator and having good writing skills and confidence. “You can’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give people a call”, Matthew says. “If you have an interest in PR you should have an interest in the news; general news, UK news, Global News, Political news and you should always be keeping abreast of what’s going on and be able to have a conversation about current affairs”, he adds.
With some athletes needing up to 5,000 calories a day, that doesn’t just mean eating three Big Macs. Being a nutritionist, you need to know not just know the values of food and supplements but also about the human body and how to keep it at maximum performance. You’ll normally need A-levels, in particular Biology and Chemistry, with a nutritional science, or similar degree . There’s the option to be freelance, which a lot of nutritionists are, but be sure to register with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) if you are considering that route. If you’re obsessed with knowing what goes in your body and enhancing your fitness levels and want to help others do the same, a Nutritionist is the perfect role for you!
With great fitness comes great injury and so a physio is always needed to keep injuries to a minimum and, if they do occur, help speed up the recovery process. It can be super intensive job following around a client and working all hours of the day – if they need physio three times a day for six months in recovery, you’ve got to be around – but it’s a great career if you’re interested in health, fitness and well-being. Oh, and patient (see the above point!). Experience is key as it’s a very hands-on role but to become a qualified physiotherapist you need a physiotherapy degree or postgraduate award approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.
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