My Foot In (and Out) the Door

This is how I got my first job in football. Keep reading if you like a story with a twist.


University of Birmingham, Sport and Exercise Sciences, third year lecture, September 2011.

“There is an opportunity to complete your undergraduate dissertation project with a Premier League football club. Please consider this collaboration is new, a project with this club has never been done before and there will be no PhD student to support you. The club will largely dictate your subject matter and there will be no guarantee that the project will be completed.”

I put myself forward without hesitating. I remember that “fuck it” moment so clearly. It was exactly what I wanted and I knew I’d make it work. I had to, it was my foot in the door.

You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take

Wayne Gretzky

A month later, I met the sport science and medical staff at the club to discuss the project. Four long months of frustratingly few email replies later and only two weeks before my poster deadline, I returned to the club to complete my data collection….

… Almost half of the original 25 players were pulled out due to medical reasons or training commitments.

… The previously agreed method was changed on the day by club staff.

… The player who recorded the quickest time on the sprint test took his shirt off and ran around the pitch celebrating to all 4 of us in there.

… Another player asked me what I was doing there “It’s the first time there has ever been a girl here.”

I can’t say any research I’ve conducted since has ran smoother than this.

The next few weeks I disappeared with my laptop, a crate of red bull and half a ton of chocolate hobnobs. Poster and dissertation both submitted with seconds to spare. Despite the stress, it was worth it.

Whilst doing my data collection at the club, it turned out I was pretty decent at excel (don’t know how, I hated IT). So when uni finished, the sport scientist asked me if I could try and build him an excel database for pre-season fitness testing. I built it in a couple of days. Within a few weeks, I’d built reports for various performance datasets. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me to prove my value.

In summer 2012, I graduated with a first, started an internship with the club and registered for a PhD. I was absolutely buzzing and couldn’t wait to start my dream career. I thought the hard part was over.

Graduation July 2012 – the world at my feet.

Less than a month later, I got home from work one day and my boss rang me.

…your services are no longer required. Don’t come in to work anymore.”

Obviously there is more to the story, and a career at the end of it… but I’ll save the rest for another day 😉

TTFN, Laura

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