Stephen Valassakis talks about his journey to become a Sports Therapist in elite sport

Sports Therapy, BSc (Hons)

UCLan student offered work opportunity at a Premier League football side following Graduation.

Sports Therapy graduate, Stephen Valassakis, has been offered the opportunity to work for Premier League side Burnley F.C., just weeks after graduating from his course.

Stephen will begin his role as a Sports Therapist at the Burnley F.C. Academy, where he will be responsible for helping the academy players with their rehabilitation after injuries and being on hand at games and training sessions to provide pitch-side medical cover.  The Burnley Academy has successfully launched the careers of many top players such as Dwight McNeil, Kyle Lafferty and Jay Rodriguez. 

Stephen, who moved to the UK from Brisbane, Australia before starting the course commented: “Having moved to the UK from Australia a few years earlier, I didn’t know much about UCLan or Preston.  However, after being here for three years I can say my experience throughout has been extremely positive and enjoyable.”

When talking about what made the course so positive, Stephen credits the support he received.  “The support and guidance from the lecturers, tutors and my fellow students over the last three years has been excellent."

Stephen Valassakis
Stephen Valassakis

"I benefitted from, and enjoyed, the strong mentorship I received throughout my degree where staff are both extremely knowledgeable, invested in their students and are all really friendly. The course was challenging at times but definitely pushed me to develop and improve from an academic, practical and clinical perspective. Throughout the course there have been plentiful opportunities to develop my communication, leadership, clinical, treatment and rehabilitation skills. Moreover, I developed keen interests in injury prevention and performance due to these experiences.”

Stephen highlighted the placements he completed during his course.  He explained: “The course involves various placements often at high level sporting clubs and associations. My placements have involved a vast range of sporting institutes/events including the London marathon, semi-professional football & rugby union clubs, and professional rugby league & football clubs.  During my third year, I was very fortunate to gain a season long placement, through UCLan at Premier League Club Burnley FC. It has been a fantastic experience, particularly learning from and working alongside the dedicated sports and medical team at the Club.  I have enjoyed working with all of the academy players, who work so hard and are so dedicated.  It has been extremely inspiring to work in such a professional environment.

“Such intensive placements aid the rapid development of assessment, treatment and rehabilitation skills, all of which are necessary for a career in this field. Developing key Sports Therapy knowledge, gaining clinical experience and working within a multi-disciplinary team has certainly aided me to develop key communication skills with other health professionals such as strength & conditioning coaches, physiotherapists, doctors, sports scientists and massage therapists. Overall, the high level coursework and placement experiences have been invaluable to my development as a future Sports Therapist.

The season-long placement helped lead to the opportunity to work at the Turf Moor club going forward.  He commented: “Burnley offered me the opportunity to work after my course was finished which emphasises the importance and value of this course.  If you work hard and take advantage of the great opportunities available to you throughout the course, you will reap the benefits. 

“The course is also a springboard for further study in an associated Master’s program, such as the MSc (Pre-registration) Physiotherapy which I will be commencing in September alongside my new role.”