As the England football team continues to make fantastic progress in the World Cup, anyone could be forgiven for thinking about what it would be like to have such a high-profile sports career. Which football enthusiast doesn’t dream of winning the Golden Boot award for top scorer? Or striking the winning ball in a nail-biting penalty shootout?
As GCSEs come to an end and thoughts of future careers are uppermost in the minds of sporting hopefuls, how realistic is a career in sport and what are the options? Thanks to National Lottery funding over the last two decades, the UK has made record-breaking medal hauls in the Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, successfully boosting the contribution that sport makes to UK culture, the economy, and the general health and well-being of the population. The UK sports industry is worth £24 billion and supports over 980,000 jobs and there are plenty of exciting career routes and opportunities.
We talked to our learning and skills manager for sport, Wayne Harrison, about the options.
Wayne said, “Sports careers are not all about elite levels of athletic performance. There are only 23 players in the national men’s football squad and jobs at that level are few and far between, especially when you consider that around 2.6 million people play football on a monthly basis in England.
“There are hundreds of fascinating careers in the sports sector with teaching and coaching being amongst the most popular. Many of our students are being developed for roles in sports coaching and sports development where they will go on to work for private organisations, or in local government. They may be working in schools at Key Stages 1 and 2 to help pupils’ physical development, or with nurseries, helping children to develop their hand to eye co-ordination. Some of our students go on to work with people who have special educational needs and disabilities.
“Others work with elite clubs on developing new talent. Our HND student Joshua Taylor works with Leicester City Football Club as part of the Regional Talent Club team, helping to develop the England World Cup squad players of the future.
“But sport is not all about performance. There are also careers in sports media whether in print or broadcast, with opportunities for anyone to develop a voice through social media and blogging getting stronger all the time.
“We mustn’t forget the commercial aspect of sport. There are hundreds of business ideas that contribute to the overall economy with products and services that require management, marketing, sponsorship or legal oversight. The success of Karren Brady, CEO of West Ham United football club, which is worth around £800 million, shows that the sky is the limit for sports at the executive level and you couldn’t wish for a better role model.
“And then there is the health and fitness industry which offers opportunities to help improve people’s lives, as well as plenty of work in the lucrative careers leisure industry. Finally, sports science opens doors to careers based on physiology, biomechanics and nutrition.
“We find that a popular misconception about our sports courses is that they are not sufficiently academic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our full-time study programmes include theory as well as practical tasks and all students continue to study maths and English to get the best GCSE grades that they can achieve.
“Our students go on to achieve places at their first choice of university with many higher education institutions preferring BTEC qualifications to A Levels because students are able to apply their learning practically.
“Those who would prefer to stay local and keep the costs of higher education down could opt for our HND in Sport which costs £3k less per year than an undergraduate degree at university.
“Young people considering their options this summer can take a look at the National Careers Service list which offers a fantastic A-Z of careers from horse-riding instructor to yoga teacher.
“Anyone who is interested in a career in sport should take a look at the range of course options at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, and then come along and have a chat with us when they have picked up their exam results.”
Of course, it is not only football in which England have seen success this weekend, with wins against Australia in cricket, and South Africa in rugby union. But for now, all thoughts are turned towards Harry Kane and his team mates.
When asked about his view of England’s chances as the World Cup progresses, Wayne was cautiously optimistic. He said, “Having watched England’s progress for thirty years or more, this looks to be a strong side and it should not be beyond their capabilities to reach the semi-final stage.”
We will be watching closely (and hopefully) to see if Wayne’s prediction is right!