How to get a Career in Sport; Coaching and Management
As sport continues to dominate our TV’s and headlines, particularly the World Cup, in this blog we acknowledge the area of management roles. Those already taking applicable degrees (specifically Sport Management), and who have a passion for sport, are in a great position to enter the industry.
It’s a childhood dream for many to coach/manage a football or sports club. But most people assume you have to have been a player previously to undertake this role. However, this is not always the case. Although there is a direct correlation between the experience of playing and understanding of the game, many learn from observation and study i.e. your ‘Arsene Wengers’. Jose Mourinho and Gerard Houllier, both major football managers, never had professional footballing careers but both have degrees which they went on to apply to the sporting industry. Starting with coaching, the path to becoming a manager is very much about your commitment and dedication to the sport and learning all there is from those around you and specifically above you; much like any industry.
Management in sport can offer individuals the opportunity to travel. Global differences in sport and the way it is ran, coached and managed are noticeable in every competition or institution and so international experience is a great thing to get. “I completed a three-month placement with the New York Red Bulls, coaching football in the community. I also met French [world famous] footballer Thierry Henry” says one of our Sports Management students; getting a taster of the global lifestyle and prospects available even before working in the industry.
To get some of the best coaching, management or indeed other jobs in sport, you may have to be prepared to work for free. Football coaching and/or management being highly desirable, the best way to gain experience is to volunteer; if you don’t someone else will.
We’re not just talking about football here; we’re talking about an all-encompassing view on the management of sports and sports facilities. Ben Whayman, a Coventry University Leisure Management graduate, patiently progressed his way up from being a lifeguard to running the Aquatics Centre at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Again, he volunteered his services, at athletics championships, homing in on the sector he desired. However, it’s worth mentioning a word that you should have heard many times when it comes to securing jobs and progressions; networking!
Ben managed to make connections with people to help him further his careers ultimately recommend him to the Olympic Committee for the ‘career high’ position of Olympics Aquatic Centre Manager.
“For anyone looking to develop a career in leisure management, more specifically in an aquatic-related field, passion for sport is a must. The leisure industry isn’t for the faint-hearted; you need a capacity to work hard as shift working is part and parcel of the job…. My top tip to anyone looking to get ahead of the game is to be willing to learn and experience all areas of the industry. I’ve worked for a range of very diverse leisure centres, from state-of-the-art purpose-built facilities to those sited in some of London’s poorest boroughs and in awkward Victorian buildings. I have run small-scale community events to encourage grassroots participation and hosted world class athletes. This has given me a broadknowledge base and the confidence to know that I could successfully manage most situations.”
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that a degree is probably not the end of your learning if you wish to reach those pole-vaulting heights. Various post graduate accreditations are likely to give you the leg up over others and towards those high management career positions.