During the World Cup, Gareth Southgate frequently paid tribute to the whole England team, not just the players but also those who worked behind the scenes to help the squad achieve optimal performance on the pitch. Each year a number of our sport and exercise science graduates go on to support elite or grassroots football teams in the same way – using the knowledge and experience they’ve gained to bring out the best from players. Matthew Ramsbotham is one such graduate. We find out how he benefited by studying on the BSc Science and Football programme and what his plans are for the future.
Having played football from a young age, Matthew has always loved the sport but his self-proclaimed lack of ability kept him from making it as a footballer. Instead, he turned to refereeing and coaching. When the time came to start considering careers, he knew he wanted to pursue sport science: “Having researched a variety of roles, I saw that sports science provided me with the perfect discipline to work within my favourite sport alongside my idols.”
After looking into programmes on offer at other institutions, Matthew chose LJMU because the degree focused on the real-world application of sport science principles using the latest best practice methods. “I knew that football was my passion and the sport I would like to pursue a career within, so saw the ability to understand theoretical concepts of sports science and then apply them to contemporary problems as a way to stand out from the crowd and become more successful in obtaining my dream job after graduation.”
“Working for Liverpool or Everton Football Club may not be as far-fetched as it seems. I am living proof that it can happen!”
Being based in the friendly, football-mad city of Liverpool was also a big factor in Matthew’s decision to study at LJMU.
“Liverpool is one of the friendliest cities that I have had the pleasure of living within. It’s vast but at the same time feels comfortable, warm and vibrant. The most impressive thing for me is the sporting prowess it holds with two major footballing institutions like Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs, both of which I have had the pleasure of working for. Especially with the links that the Science and Football programme has to those clubs – achieving your ambition of working for them may not be as far-fetched as it seems. I am living proof that it can happen!”
Matthew captures footage during a game at Liverpool FC Academy.
While at LJMU, Matthew was able to take part in a season-long internship as a first team performance analyst at Everton Football Club. He describes the experience: “It provided me with a fantastic insight into the demands of Premier League football with the rapid turnaround of games and how deadlines needed to be met alongside maintaining the standards of the analysis. Overall, the placement has set me up to achieve my future career aspirations.”
Matthew was also able to take advantage of an opportunity to go abroad while at LJMU – taking part in a once-in-lifetime trip to Shanghai. An inspirational and enlightening experience, he used the opportunity to gain insight into Chinese coaching methods by visiting Shanghai Greenland Shenhua FC, watching the youth team train and visiting one of the national sports centres for China.
Back on campus, he was involved in the University men’s football team. His final year saw him in the role of assistant manager and head of performance analysis. “My experience with the team has enabled me to develop key skills of working with a wide range of players from a variety of backgrounds and implement best practice ideas to increase standards towards a high performance culture. I would certainly recommend any student to become involved with as many extracurricular activities as they can because you never know what you might get out of it and the friends that you will make for life!”
When it comes to his next steps, Matthew can’t wait to start applying the skills he’s gained at LJMU as he’s been offered a role as a Research Assistant with the Football Association.
If you’re inspired by Matthew’s experiences, find out more about the BSc Science and Football programme. Now in its 20th year, the programme works alongside the Football Association, FIFA, Premier League clubs and the Professional Footballers’ Association to give students fantastic opportunities to gain real world experience with some of the best teams and organisations. Be sure to check out the other courses available within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences as well.