International specialists in the field of sport coaching at LJMU visited Malta this month, rounding off the academic year, as they brought together UK-based MSc Sport Coaching students with their Maltese counterparts on the MSc International Sport Coaching programme.
The international programme was launched in September 2021 in conjunction with Learning Works, a further and higher education institution in Malta. The programme brings world-leading sport science teaching to Maltese students while creating opportunities for knowledge sharing across the country’s professional sport network.
Six students were enrolled on the first course of its kind, and they recently spent time sharing what they’d learnt with a group of students from the UK-based course during the visit to Malta.
For the UK-based students, the visit involved an intense schedule including working with the Maltese students on their research projects and visiting the Malta Football Association to watch the national team train.
Matt Gherardi, one of the UK-based students who travelled to Malta, said: “It was definitely a worthwhile experience. Not only did we manage to work on our individual assignments and network, but we were also able to explore the countries rich culture. With some of us even partaking in an open water swimming competition.
"I believe that the trip has only strengthened the existing bond between the Malta and UK students, alongside our relationship with the academic staff. I am hoping that these relationships can really make an impact and I am certain that LJMU has the potential to positively impact sport within Malta.”
Both the UK and Malta based programmes are designed to allow students to explore a range of topics, including athlete learning, talent development processes, physical and psychological training, performance analysis and social relationships in coaching.
The course content is informed by the latest research and best practice in sport coaching from LJMU’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.
Programme Leader, Dr Colum Cronin, said: “The first year of the MSc International Sport Coaching has been a huge success. We have worked closely with the students including triathlon, swimming and football coaches. Through weekly online sessions and three visits to Malta, we have been able to support them to enhance their own coaching practice, provide high quality sporting experiences to their athletes, and begin to underpin their work with Malta specific research projects.”
Dr Bernice Sant, from Learning Works Malta, has also heralded the programme, stating that: “The quality of the MSc coaching programme has been exceptional. The students have developed as coaches and as people. In turn this provides a high-quality workforce to enhance sport in Malta for key agencies such as the Malta Olympic Committee and Sport Malta. The Ministry of Gozo, and the Malta FA have been supportive of the programme, and it feels like the beginning of a movement to enhance coaching practice across the country.”
In 2022/23 the collaboration between LJMU and the Maltese sport community will continue with a second cohort of students beginning their studies in September. The first cohort of students will graduate at LJMU’s winter ceremonies.