As many as 60 graduates from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences have secured roles at professional football clubs in England and overseas over the past decade thanks to an internship scheme with Everton Football Club.
Every year around ten undergraduates in the final year of their degrees have the opportunity to work across the Everton Academy, alongside their academic studies, thanks to the thriving partnership between the club and LJMU’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.
Through the paid internship programme, students gain vital knowledge, skills, and experience within sports science and analytic roles at the Premier League football club.
As a direct result of the internship partnership, more than 20 interns have been employed by Everton following the conclusion of their degree, with 15 former interns now working within the first-team set-up or Academy departments.
More than 80 people gathered at Everton in the Community’s Blue Base to celebrate the partnership on Wednesday 16 February, with former interns sharing their experiences of working for Everton and explaining how the internship programme helped them enter the world of professional football.
Attendees also took part in a Q+A session with the Head of the Football Exchange at LJMU Dr Martin Littlewood, Everton’s Head of Academy Sports Science and LJMU intern and placement leader John McKeown, Emily Sandford, a current LJMU intern, and Jack Dowling, a former intern who has recently taken up a role as Everton’s First-Team Strength and Conditioning Coach.
Ground-breaking work between LJMU and EFC
McKeown, who led the event, said: “The partnership we have built with LJMU’s Football Exchange and Sport Science department is ground-breaking, and this can be seen in the number of successes we have had across the last 10 years, many of whom have been keen to get involved here today to show their support and share their positive experiences.
“Everton’s involvement with Liverpool John Moores University has led to the partnership being one of the most revered in the UK in terms of how well the partnership is organised and constructed.
“The programme continues to grow and evolve, and we are now starting to see a more diverse group of students gain placements and go on to enter the world of sports science and performance analysis.”
Propelling students closer to employment
Dr Martin Littlewood, Reader in Performance Psychology & Head of The Football Exchange at LJMU, said: “What has been achieved over the 10-year relationship is remarkable. Our students gain first-hand practical experience to apply their academic knowledge in the real world and in an elite environment.
“Their development during the internship is such a valuable learning experience that propels them closer to employment beyond graduation.
“The pipeline of talent that the relationship has provided to the football industry is a fabulous reflection of the hard work of LJMU and Academy staff at EFC. We are excited to see what the next decade of our relationship brings.”
A 2020 graduate, Oliver Maher, was the only student on the Football and Science course to be selected to work with Everton’s first team as a performance analysis intern. During his final year he reflected on the opportunities the internship had given him and that it was the ‘best experience’ of his studies.
“I have been able to apply the knowledge gained from my time at LJMU, to an applied, elite setting. This has been an unbelievable experience so far, which includes pre-match opposition scouting and analysis, to working at Goodison Park on a match day assisting the analysis team with live coding and video feedback. An opportunity I worked extremely hard to earn but will never take for granted. This has been by far my best experience of my time at LJMU.”
For more information about the career-enhancing student placements available through study with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University, read our feature on students turning a passion for football into a career.