Thomas Jones had dreamed for a career as a professional, but that dream ended due to injury. However, Thomas has turned that disappointment into a positive as he is training to support other people in sport suffering from injuries by studying BSc Sports Therapy. Starting the course in September 2019, Thomas has shared his early experiences on the course with the Course Leader, Jill Alexander-Riley.
What attracted you to do the BSc Sports Therapy programme here at UCLan?
I have previously played professional sport myself, however unfortunately could not continue due to injury. I wanted to understand sports injuries further and then eventually be able to assist in injury prevention and treatment for players in a similar environment/scenario.
I want to stay involved in sport and the opportunity this course provides in terms of placement is great. When I came for a chat and walk round, Daniel Birdsall (Lecturer-Practitioner on the Sports Therapy Team) was very welcoming and understanding of my scenario, and outlined the potential opportunity as a qualified Sports Therapist, which encouraged me further to, engage in this university course. Preston is local to my home address, and UCLan Sports Therapy has all my academic aspirations covered, so was an opportunity I did not want to miss.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy about the BSc Sports Therapy programme?
I enjoy learning and understanding the theoretical side behind treatment methods and theories, and then have the opportunity to exercise this on placement in practical environments, gaining hands on experience. Being able to translate the theory into practical scenarios where you can link everything together has really increased my confidence as an individual and as a therapist. The UCLan environment provides a great platform where you are encouraged to be very individually competent, with amazing support that ultimately will prepare you for a job as a graduate Sports Therapist, post University life.
Where have you attended on placement during your course? Tell us about your experiences on placement so far.
Preston Grasshoppers RUFC - a regular weekend placement with the junior section of Preston Grasshoppers RUFC has offered me additional experience working in rugby union and exposure to some challenging situations that encourages you to become practically competent in treating a wide range of injury types with varying severity. This opportunity has allowed me to improve my communication with younger players, coaches and in some cases parents and ambulance service too.
Orrell RUFC – Orrell RUFC has been a great placement for myself, I have been involved in an experienced medical team with two amazing mentors who have allowed me to gain hands on experience with all aspects of treatment. I have dealt with varying abilities and ages of players. This has improved my knowledge and competency massively, and increased my confidence levels as a sports therapist. Further opportunity in rugby union which has allowed me to understand the demands of a professionally ran club from the perspective of the Sports Therapy profession. This placement has also encouraged me further to gain knowledge in my own time on additional treatment methods and theories behind treatment I may use in my career as a sports therapist.
UCLan University Sports Teams - Wednesday’s are a chance to cover different sports played at university level. Sometimes sports I have been unfamiliar with, which has allowed me to broaden my knowledge on rules and regulations in specific sports from a sports therapist point of view. Generally, fixtures are covered by a small group of student Sports Therapists, therefore it has been good to work as a team and communicate properly when delegating roles with each other. It has also been beneficial to learn from others and witness their approach to treatment compared to mine.
Lancashire Schools FA - an insight into elite age group football. This has allowed me to plan my individual preparation in terms of equipment stock, emergency action plan to help me provide the best care for the players as I have been covering the games on my own. At the start of the course all student Sports Therapists complete the FA Level 2 Certificate for pitch side care. Therefore, I was able to put my certificate and experiences gained form the course into practice. It has also been a challenge to replicate the care the players receive at their scholarship football clubs and make sure any treatment is justified and communicated back. It has also allowed me to gain experience in a different sport and further experience with younger athletes.
Widnes Vikings - an opportunity to be in a professional environment so early has made me realise the increased demands of the industry and the wider role as a Sports Therapist. I have been able to work with elite international players as part of a professional rugby league club, which has improved and is improving my communication skills and has helped me start to build individual rapport with each player.
What are your aspirations after you graduate?
I would eventually like to work directly in sport, with a professional sports team. Although have not decided which sport specifically. I am also considering studying at master’s level to enhance my opportunity of a role in elite level sport.
How would you summarise the teaching and teaching staff on the course?
The staff at UCLan are so genuine, supportive and understanding. They have amazing knowledge and expertise, which is translated into their individual teaching methods. The staff are always encouraging and supportive with their approach to learning.
27 January 2020