Name – Andrew Woodside
Company – Irish FA
Role – Referees Analyst/Performance Analyst
Degree – Sport Theory and Practice
A typical day on placement is watching full football games, either at senior level or a grassroots level, and picking out ‘Key Match Incidents’ such as cautions, dismissals, offsides etc. With grassroots games I am watching and clipping any development points which can be used to help improve standards at grassroots level. I also help with the analyst of the senior ladies international team.
What has surprised you the most about your placement?
The biggest surprise to me was how relevant the modules we study in first and second year at Ulster University are to situations within industry. Performance Analysis being the obvious one but also with sitting in football development meetings and conferences, modules such as Sports Development and Management, Sports Policy and Planning and even Sport and Politics have all been valuable in the planning and execution of programs. At some stage of my placement I could relate to almost every module, from coaching to politics.
What has been your biggest challenge and achievement?
My biggest challenge was probably the time pressure on games being clipped and sent back. This also became my biggest achievement from the placement, after being selected to go to Croatia with the Senior Ladies International Team to be their analyst. With matches having to be watched, analyzed and clipped within 3 hours of the final whistle for that evenings team meeting.
What skills and qualities have you developed through your role?
I have developed team working skills, with being part of the football development team in the association. I have also improved timekeeping skills with the return of clips within the correct timescale. My skills presenting myself and ideas have improved by being provided with opportunities to present at conferences both within the association and outside it such as at Sports Data Conference in Dublin.
What are the benefits of doing a placement?
I think the obvious benefits are the skills and qualities you develop from working within the industry and seeing how the theory you study applies in practice in the working world. But perhaps a hidden benefit of placement is the networking and new contacts that you pick up along the way. I now have contacts across departments within the Irish FA as well as a number of contacts with companies that the association use, such as TrackChamp for their footage at senior level.
Skills you’ve developed so far…
Teamwork, timekeeping, general communication skills and things like that would be the main skills gained. A number of my skills have also been developed, such as my presentation skills and interpersonal skills while networking with others within the industry.
How do you think this will help your future career?
This helps reinforce the thought of what I want to do post-graduation, which gives me a clearer goal to aim for. I think the contacts gained helps greatly. I also think the insight I’ve been given to one of the largest governing bodies in Ireland, shows how many sporting bodies will operate which will undoubtedly help me when applying for jobs once I complete and graduate from final year.
Top Tips for second year students applying for a placement:
Think the best tip, is that placement is the best thing to do, as I know a number of my cohort felt they’d just go straight through to final year. The experience gained is vital and really helps you firstly understand the modules being carried out within the degree program, but it also helps you decide on your ultimate career path. I would also recommend trying to gain a placement with a reputable body such as the Irish FA, local councils and obviously schools if teaching is what you are considering. A final tip is to grab opportunities with both hands that come towards you while on placement, I have travelled to Dublin to present at conference, Liverpool for an exchange program and have spent 10 days on international duty with the Northern Ireland Senior Woman’s Team in Croatia, with a second trip potentially on the cards. Experiences like these make placement invaluable and can really set you up for an exciting career, if you apply yourself correctly and take these opportunities.