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Football Studies students at Solent University, Southampton are having a global impact, putting their learning into practice to positively influence player results for Canada Soccer.

22nd March 2024
FootballHomepage - News - Standard

Two years on from their initial collaboration, which saw a cohort of students in Solent's Department of Sport and Health analyse Canada's performance at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Canada Football Association and the University continue to work together to enhance results on the pitch.

Impressed by the way students analysed and informed their game at the sport's biggest event in the world, Canada FA recently asked Solent's Football Studies community to conduct match analysis and data collection to provide informed outcomes that can continue to support players and staff at the association. 

Owen Hurst, a third-year Football Studies undergraduate who aims to complete a master's at Solent, says: "This experience has been priceless, allowing us to work with another national governing body and gain invaluable experience in the industry itself.

"The course has offered experiences like this all-year round which I have grabbed with both hands and with the end of my third year on the horizon, I'm so grateful for the opportunities that have been provided. It's been a platform to showcase what I can do and given me the chance to network and create my own relationships with the teams that we have been working alongside."

Within higher education, this is the only known collaboration of its kind; crossing the pond to connect students on the cusp of their football careers with an established, thriving association seeking fresh insight. Kevin Braybrook, Course Leader - Football at Solent University, says:

"Our football courses continue to develop innovative and industry-leading relationships across the map, but the recent collaboration with Canada FA has established knowledge exchange at the highest level of international football. We have been delighted with how our students have managed this collaboration, conducted research, met deadlines, and presented their findings at such a professional level.

"To access this level of opportunity is so beneficial for students and creates experiences so relevant towards their career aspirations. The students should be proud of their commitment and levels of work, and we are excited to develop this relationship further in both the men's and women's game, all for the benefit of football in Canada."

Due to the success this collaboration has enjoyed since it began in 2022, students have been invited to continue supporting Canada FA. Across the next year, they will be utilising the knowledge they have captured to apply it towards co-developing a coaching curriculum; supporting courses in coach education; and informing an approach to the North American 2026 World Cup. 

Students have praised the project for enhancing their insight into the football industry, giving them a strong foundation in which to begin their careers in the game after graduation. Football Studies postgraduate student, Harry Saunders, says:

"I'm grateful that the course created this opportunity to work with people from within the football industry while I'm still completing my master's. It's given me valuable experience and connections that would normally be hard to come by. The project has created a good link between the undergraduate and postgraduate Football Studies courses, allowing for an exchange of knowledge and skills.

"Eventually, I want to work in data science or analytics within football and the course has helped build a good foundation for this."

Find out more about Solent's Football Studies degrees here.