Being able to witness the development of these boys was extremely rewarding and the development they made as football players under my guidance is certainly what I am most proud of having achieved."
Michael Thompsett is a BSc (Hons) Sports Psychology and Coaching Sciences student, who completed his placement at Global Premier Soccer in the USA. He shares his placement story…
What was your placement?
In August 2018, I embarked on a journey to New Jersey, in the United States of America, to start my full-time placement at Global Premier Soccer (GPS).
As a Sports Psychology and Coaching Sciences undergraduate student, with two years of university experience behind me, I was excited to start my placement in a country I had never visited before. Whilst unsure of what to expect, I was aware of exactly what I wanted to achieve whilst on placement. Despite limited coaching experience, I set myself high expectations, to lead a team to on-field success.
My placement was 11 months and, as a result of being in America, I was entitled to 30 days holiday, in which I was able to return to the UK in December, to visit my family for Christmas and New Year.
What was your role?
I was recruited as a Sports Management and Development Intern, but my role was specifically the Head Coach of two GPS Football (Soccer) Teams (U10 and U12 Boys). As well as being a Head Coach, my position also consisted of specific office duties throughout the day, prior to my evening coaching assignments.
My main role in the office was Premier Coordinator for the teams I coached and I also undertook the role of Camps and Clinics Manager prior to the start of the summer season, where I was responsible for responding to concerns regarding the Camps and Clinics, as well as managing the registrations for these programmes.
I was assigned two Premier teams (U10 and U12 Boys) - as part of my role as GPS Mercer Head Coach for my two respective teams, I was primarily responsible for planning and delivering training sessions, in preparation for the fixtures they played at the weekend. I also coordinated the schedule of both teams, by arranging fixtures throughout the season and prior to their involvement in Tournaments.
On top of this, I was heavily involved in the Premier Tryouts process for the upcoming season, which involved an element of scouting.
What was the best thing about the placement and what are you most proud of having achieved?
Upon completion of my placement, I personally feel as though the best thing about my placement was being responsible for the development of twenty-five boys (x12 U10s and x13 U12s).
Being able to witness the development of these boys was extremely rewarding and the development they made as football players under my guidance is certainly what I am most proud of having achieved. Despite limited coaching experience prior to my arrival in the USA, one of my main placement aims was to achieve on-field success with one of my teams.
This aim was achieved and the impact I had upon the players I coached is reinforced by the feedback I received from the players and their parents, as they feel as though I was a role model for their children, by developing them as people, as well as football players.
I was awarded GPS NJ Newcomer of the Year at the Annual Staff Retreat which took place in Connecticut. This was an extremely proud moment for me, as it made me realise that I was fulfilling my role to a high standard.
What did you learn through completing the placement? Do you think it will help you with the rest of your degree/your career?
Following the completion of my placement, I learnt a lot about both myself and also the daily operations of a sports development organisation. The reason why I feel as though this will benefit my career is primarily because I have now realised that the job I undertook in the USA is something I would like to pursue once I complete my degree.
My understanding of specific coaching principles will also help with the remainder of my degree, as I learnt so much from the GPS NJ Technical Director, as he encouraged you to regularly reflect upon the sessions you planned and delivered, by reviewing specific components of your session, which is something I had never done before.
What advice would you give to any BU students who are looking for a placement or about to start?
The advice I would give to BU students who are either looking for a placement or about to start would be to remain positive and make the most of every available opportunity. Prior to arriving in the USA, I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve and take away from the experience and this is certainly what motivated me throughout my eleven months on placement.
By investing so much time and effort into my role, I was able to appreciate certain elements of my placement when I experienced success, while overcoming challenging situations was also extremely rewarding, on top of realising the impact I was having upon the organisation.