Sarah Nickless

BA (Hons) Sports Coaching, 2015

UCLan graduate, Sarah Nickless, has achieved success following her Sports Coaching degree to become a Football Development Officer at Somerset Football Association

Whilst Sarah was at college, she chose to pursue Sports Coaching for her undergraduate studies as she enjoyed coaching a local grassroots football team.

After attending applicant days at UCLan, Sarah felt comfortable and valued when she spoke to course tutors. Surrounding herself with the right people was a key part of her decision to study at the University of Central Lancashire.

Within weeks of Sarah completing her degree in 2015, she accepted her current job. She wanted to get her first graduate job as soon as possible and felt that the longer she left applying for jobs, the more competition there would be from other students for the same roles. So, by the time Sarah graduated, she had already been in full time employment for five months.

At present, Sarah works as a Football Development Officer (Youth & Mini Soccer) at Somerset Football Association. Her role involves developing current playing opportunities for young people under the age of 18, whilst working with clubs and leagues to further support the work of volunteers and coaches.

Sarah is also the chairperson for the FA Youth Council where she represents all children and young people within the Football Association’s (FA) governance structure on FA Council. Sarah also leads a team of 15 young people who have a vision to ‘inspire, empower and provide a voice for all children and young people to influence change and develop a lasting legacy in football.’ Sarah became the youngest ever member of the FA Council at 23, and was first to represent the FA Youth Council following the governance reform at The FA, which she cites as her greatest achievement to date.

During her time at UCLan, Sarah took advantage of gaining beneficial work experience. She undertook numerous voluntary roles including coaching and setting up the Lancashire FA Youth Council, to ensure young people had a voice within the county on matters which impacted them. Sarah also got involved in many of the FA’s national programmes including The FA Coach Scholarship Programme and the launch of Team Sixteen. She was also selected to represent the FA in Rwanda on The FA’s Changing Lives Programme where she delivered a coach development scheme. Other roles included being a part of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Student Management Group, the BUCS Futsal & Football Committee.

During Sarah’s time at UCLan in 2013, the University became a Grassroots Hub when it teamed up with the Lancashire County Football Association. As part of this, Sarah was appointed as the University Football Activator, a paid role to sustain and increase the number of students playing football, refereeing and supporting the game through the Community Hub Club.

Sarah was particularly proud that two of her University assessed papers were published in the Journal of Qualitative Research in Sports Studies, with a further one written post study about her time in education.

Speaking of her lasting memories at UCLan, Sarah stated: “The relationships I created with tutors, who helped me not only with my degree programme, but challenged my thinking and supported my development as a person. Falling in love with learning, the endless pit of challenged assumptions, new found knowledge and understanding.”

When asked if she has any advice to current students and graduates, Sarah said: “Make sure it’s what you want to be doing. Branch out and see that education opens doors, take opportunities to better yourself as a person, not just professionally.”

14 March 2019