University Campus Suffolk in new partnership with Ipswich Town for Sports Science Masters programme

Fitness testing and assessment in the Sports Science laboratory at UCS, Ipswich.

Fitness testing and assessment in the Sports Science laboratory at UCS, Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town Football Club and University Campus Suffolk, in Ipswich, are teaming to offer a range of new Sports Science Masters degrees.

The Integrated Masters Programme is available from September 2016.

This unique partnership, the first in this country, and perhaps in the world, will see science students gaining real life experience within the Ipswich Town academy system throughout their four years of study, working with players of various ages in areas of fitness, nutrition, coaching and much more.

Sports Science has moved on enormously in recent years, and footballers are highly tuned athletes who need to be in the peak of condition to do their best when it comes to match days.

So for every club, and that includes Ipswich Town, keeping players match fit is tremendously important.


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UCS students will have placements at the academy, taking their knowledge from classroom level through to applied practice.

The football club will benefit from the additional expertise in developing young players all the way through to the first team squad.

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They will also have access and the expertise at UCS where the teaching staff have access to £1 million worth of medical assesment and other equipment, vital in preparing highly tuned athletes for competition, and for identifying problems and preventing injuries.

Dr Gavin Devereux, head of Sorts Science and Coaching at University Campus Suffolk, said: “This is a very exciting development.

“We have been working with Ipswich Town for a number of years and this is a major step forward.

“Over their course masters students will get the chance of increasing their time working at Ipswich and gaining real experience.”

“This is the first of its kind, certainly in this country, We believe we are the first in the world.”

Students will get the chance to work, increasingly over their four years of study, within Ipswich Town,

“We expect these courses to be popular with students, and students from abroad too because of their mixture of academic and practical skills.

“This close relationship, with a professional football club, is good for both of us,” he added.

Areas covered range from strength and conditioning to sports psychology and performance analysis to physiology for football.

Head of Sports Science at Ipswich Town and assistant academy director is Lee O’Neill, who has been part of the Ipswich Town family since he was a schoolboy.

He was a youth player alongside the likes of Titus Bramble and Richard Logan, Adam Miller and Stephen Moffat. The slightly younger age group at the club then included Matt Bloomfield, Darren Ambrose and Darrent Bent who went on to star for Ipswich Town.

Lee, a winger, was troubled by injury and never made it through to the first team.

So he changed direction and went to Loughborough University, to take a degree in Sports Science and Management, which he followed with teacher training and he worked in local schools in Suffolk, He did his Masters with Anglia Ruskin University. He returned to Town, initially working part-time coaching in the academy and taking on a full-time rolle in 2012.

The academy staff team includes other former youth players Scott Mitchell, Adem Atay and Gerard Nash with Chris Hogg working with the foundation.

Another former player Liam Manning has recently moved on to work at West Ham.

Lee said: “My relationship with Gavin started about three years ago, when I took on my role here as head of sports science.

“I was looking for specialist help and guidance in areas like fitness and testing of players, strength and conditioning.

“He has also got equipment that we don’t have here and some expertise that we could use.”

That included taking players down to the hi-tech sports science laboratory at the Waterfront for fitness testing and assessment.

The new partnership would be of benefit for both parties, he said.

“I went to one of the best universities in the world (for sports science), but I never had practical experience. I was able to come back to Ipswich to get that experience.”

The academy staff were dealing with the phyiscal stresses and strains, right through the age groups, helping develop their life skills as well as football ability, he said, and working with parents and families. “The academy is an important part of the football club.

“The university can help us. As a football club we want to produce the best youth system with best specialists.

“In the end we want to produce youth players, for the manager, in the first team.

“That is what we are all working towards.

“It is a nice close knit community, with everyone from the under 9s to first team players here.”

The new link was good for both parties, he added, “They have the expertise and theory and we help the student with the practical side of things.

“It is a massive development.

“It helps us, and in turn it helps the student.”

There are many different careers in the multi-million pound football industry.

Former Ipswich FA Youth Cup winner James Krause, who went on to study sports science at UCS, has since gone from Ipswich Town to a role at Arsenal.

Integrated Masters Programme:

UCS partnership with Ipswich Town academy: MSci in Football Coaching, Msci Performance Analysis, MSci Sports Performance Physiology of Football, MSci Sports Psychology for Football, MSci Strength and Conditioning for Football.

To find out more about the new Integrated Masters degree programmes go to: www.ucs.ac.uk/football

Telephone: 01473 333800.

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