Football Coaching and Business Management course director Kyle Ferguson spoke to extratime.ie about the pioneering Ulster University 5 year part time degree course which launched in 2017.
Having spent time as an analyst with the Northern Ireland under-17 and under-19 teams, Ferguson coached in New Zealand for a period before returning home to set up the course.
Lectures take place in Windsor Park in blocks from 9am to 5pm for for weeks of the year as Ferguson’s research indicated this would be most effective for students on the course. The third year also encompasses a 26 week of placement in the football industry.
This placement is expected to take place at a Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) club and the course, as well as having strong links with the IFA, currently contains four under-18 NIFL managers – including former Cliftonville defender Barry Johnston who is currently in charge of their under-18 side.
Places on the course are limited to 20 students each year to try to ensure graduates have the maximum chance of gaining employment upon graduation.
Current students include aspiring coaches, Northern Irish players returning from a spell playing in England or Scotland, mature students who are currently coaching on a part time basis, Northern Ireland’s Under 19 Women’s captain Emma McGuinness and some emerging Irish League footballers.
As well as being based at the home of Northern Irish football, IFA input also includes guest speakers such as IFA CEO Patrick Nelson and former Northern Irish international and current Elite Performance Director Jim Magilton.
The concept of being a part time course run over four week blocks throughout the five years stems from the fact that it allows people who are currently working in the soccer industry to remain in employment throughout the duration of their studies.
Again, the 26-week placement is designed to allow those who are based in a relevant footballing role to continue in this role, while also providing those who aren’t with an insight into how a football club operates over an extended period of time. This helps students build relationships within the club to help with possible future employment.
Further information on the course can be found here, including an information video detailing the reasons for the creation of the course as well as highlighting the strength of the partnership between the IFA and Ulster University, with staff from both involved in the presentation of modules including the opportunity to study for coaching badges up to UEFA ‘B’ standard alongside gaining an insight into various aspects of the football industry.