Sports newsletter: Issue 2
Graduate Callum went from playing American Football for Britain to becoming a Graduate Teaching Assistant at UCB. Why?
He reveals all here:
While he was studying his Sports Therapy degree at UCB, Callum developed a passion – and serious talent – for American Football. Now a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), Callum reflects on his time on professional sports teams, his love for his current job, and what his plans are for the future.
“When I first read about UCB’s Sports Therapy course, I knew instantly that it was the one for me,” said Callum, who graduated from the University with a first class degree in September 2017.
“Because of the flexibility of the course, I was able to balance my studies with training for American Football, something I’d become interested in as a young student. My course and training complemented each other so well, I managed to represent Great Britain twice and was offered semi-professional contracts from both Sweden and Germany’s national teams.
"Even though my schedule was hectic, I loved doing it alongside university as what I was learning meant I could approach the sport from a medical perspective, too.
“Now I’m a GTA, I love putting what I’ve studied into practice with current students. It’s great to see how quickly they come along and how eager they are to learn more – and having been in their position, I know exactly what the stresses and strains of being a Sports Therapy student are and it’s so satisfying to help them in that respect, too.
“UCB Sports Therapy GTA Lance White, former UCB student Ashley Fry and I recently founded an online platform, Physical Performance Therapy, which provides all kinds of sports therapy tutorials. We’re in the early stages of development, but have already grown a good following on social media. At the moment, we’re supporting Sutton Coldfield Rugby Football Club with pre- and post-match therapy, as well as evolving our private client base, too."
Student James talks balancing his third year studies, personal training and a semi-professional rugby career:
Playing rugby from the age of 13, Sport and Fitness Studies student James Burgoyne had always dreamed of a becoming a professional rugby player. Now in his fifth year at UCB (studying Level 1 Coaching and Level 2 Gym before starting his degree), James has a semi-professional contract with Moseley Rugby Club and is well on his way to realising his childhood dream.
So, how does a university student juggle a semi-professional rugby career with other commitments? James puts his success down to the teaching, the course and the qualifications he’s gained since starting at UCB.
“I’ve absolutely loved my time here,” said James, who is currently concentrating on his dissertation before he graduates this June. “I have been at UCB since college and can’t really imagine leaving.”
“I’ve been playing rugby for a long time now and I was so pleased when I was offered a contract by my club, Birmingham Moseley Rugby, in 2016. But as I come closer to the end of my degree, I have had so many opportunities and career pathways open up to me that also feel really exciting.
“I’m currently working as a Personal Trainer (PT) at the Cube Health Club in Birmingham city centre. PT jobs are really competitive, but I was lucky in that my degree put me well a head of other applicants. Employers are always really impressed by the specialised knowledge students on my degree course have about coaching, nutrition and fitness compared to self-taught candidates. It also means that I can help my clients make real, lasting changes to their lifestyle and health, which makes the job really satisfying.
“Working so closely with so many other sports graduates, both through rugby and personal training, I have realised that there are lots of people who are studying sport to the same level as me who don’t get anywhere near the amount of contact time I do, nor do they get any subsidies on the coaching and personal training qualifications we get.”
“It’s still my dream to become a professional rugby player. But, for now, I’m focusing on balancing everything. My tutors are very flexible and understanding, and have promised me they will stay that way… so long as I get their work done first!”
Mainly involving trips to the library and long bouts of internet searching, research for an assignment isn’t often anything to get too excited about. Not so, however, for Sports Management student Charlotte O’Neill, who was joined by her third-year classmates on a trip to Poland to support research for their final-year International Sports Environment module.
Charlotte’s class enjoyed an action packed journey across the country with highlights including trips to a Polish football match and a white knuckle race down a man-made canoe course. The visit was to support the student’s assignments exploring cultural shifts towards sport in post-Communist Poland.
“It was incredible,” said Charlotte, who is currently working on her dissertation on the culture of masculinity in British Rugby. “We packed a lot in, especially considering the weather as it snowed non-stop. One of my personal highlights was visiting a ski-jump near Zakopane, an amazing town at the foot of the Tatras Mountains. It was so beautiful!”
Travelling to Krakow, Warsaw and Zakopane, students also visited a university specialising in physical education and sport, attending a lecture in Polish sporting culture and a tour of the university facilities.
“It was great to talk to some of the students about what they thought of our assignment topic,” added Charlotte. “It really bought our research to life.”
Mohammed Wasim started his career as a plumbing and gas engineer. But, after a change of heart in his twenties, he decided to follow his heart and take an access course in Sports Therapy, eventually making it onto UCB’s Sports Therapy BSc.
During that time, Mohammed founded Dr. Support, a business providing treatment and supplies for sports and medical injuries. Since graduating UCB in 2017, Mohammed has been able to rapidly expand his business to respond to growing demand and already has grand plans for the future.
“My degree has been invaluable to developing my business,” said Mohammed. “I only wish I could go back in time and start again with all the technical knowledge I have now.
“Having my course accredited by the University of Birmingham has been crucial. When starting your own business, having an internationally-recognised institution by your name gives you a real advantage.
“One of the other most important things,” he added, “was having such experienced lecturers by my side throughout my degree.
I was overwhelmed with the level of industry experience the staff at UCB had compared to other universities. Without that, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now.”
Lecturer Keith Ward was keen to affirm his excitement for Mohammed’s future. “I had the pleasure of teaching Wasim on a number of modules on this course,” he said. “I witnessed his knowledge, skills and confidence develop, and can now see that he is ready to succeed as both a practitioner and a businessman.”
Having recently founded a sister company, Million Sports Therapy Services, Mohammed is looking to expand his practice into mobile clinics and personal training. He plans, eventually, to have his own sports injury clinic, accommodating a range of clients and injuries.
Sports Therapy Lecturer Gareth Bate is soon to jet across the world for the opportunity of a lifetime after being recruited to lead Team Scotland’s medical crew for Australia’s Commonwealth Games. He will manage the soft tissue provision for the entire cohort of athletes as they attempt to beat the record-breaking medal haul they took home from Glasgow’s games in 2014.
Selected for the role by Steven Mutch, Head of Physiotherapists for Commonwealth Games Scotland, Gareth has built a good reputation of working on major sporting events ever since joining the therapist team for the Scottish Rugby Union four years ago. However, with over 70 participating teams and an international reputation, the Commonwealth Games will present a whole new kind of opportunity.
“I think the work I do with the rugby team, and previous roles I have had within professional rugby, golf and tennis, has prepared me to an extent for this role,” said Gareth, who graduated from UCB with a degree in Sports Therapy in 2007, “but it is still a very exciting and daunting prospect.
“It’s taken the best part of a year to get everything to this stage, but now everything is in place, I am so relieved I can finally talk about it.
“I think the challenge of a role like this comes from the prestige of the championship. For some athletes, this is the absolute pinnacle of their sport they dedicate their lives to achieving. With that comes a distinct pressure on me to ensure they are mentally and physically prepared to perform at their peak and exceed the 56 medals they achieved at the last games in Glasgow.
“I cannot wait to go, but with all of those athletes to look after, I’m also under no illusions as to how far I’m going to be put to the test. It will be a busy couple of weeks!”
Don’t forget to follow Gareth on his journey to Oz on Twitter and Instagram for live feeds, pics and more: