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Wednesday 23 July 2014

Tips to get into a sporting career

In this feature we talk to Sporting staff members and find out what their ‘Sporting Footsteps’ were enabling them to get to their much enjoyed job roles that they are in today.

This month we interviewed Tom Morton, a Sports Development Officer. He gave us some insight into how to get into sport as a career.

What is your role within Sport Solent?

Sport Development Officer – Support the development and operational needs of the Team Solent Clubs, with a focus on player recruitment in recent times.

Tom Morton playing rugby.

What skill(s) are you finding that you are using the most?

The student-athlete recruitment aspect is particularly interesting, one which I can implement certain techniques off the Marketing Management Masters that I studied.

Have you always wanted to work in the sport and leisure industry and if so, why?

Yes, I couldn’t imagine working in any other industry. Sport has been such a major factor in my life, my free time is largely spent playing sport, the degree I studied, the connections I have made and challenges that it presents all suggests it is the right industry for me.

What has your academic and professional journey been so far and where do you foresee it leading you?

After a fairly innocuous and unsuccessful period of studying at school, I decided to prolong 9-5 work by heading out to Australia for a gap year. During this time I made the decision that I would like to work towards a career in sport and went onto gain a Sport Development & Marketing degree at Solent University.

Throughout this period I regularly made myself available for part-time work at the “Sport and Rec” department, combined with heavily committing to Team Solent Rugby & Cricket clubs, I built up a strong relationship with the department and much like many other current employees this got me a “foot in the door”.

This led to a role with Solent Health Spark, as support for the service in its very early stages. I was amongst the first cohort of student interns which allowed me to complete a masters simultaneously in Marketing Management. By this time I was regularly representing Hampshire Cricket 2nd XI, and pursuing the vague possibility that this might turn into something more substantial, I chose to play a season of cricket in Melbourne. However with the uncertainty that this presented and with a great opportunity to come back to Sport Solent ahead of me, this progressed into the position I’m in now.

The development and success of Team Solent clubs will always mean a lot to me having played in and managed these clubs for quite a significant period of time, I would love to progress into a role where my decisions and actions have a greater influence over the success of these clubs, the proactive approach to Team Solent recruitment really interests me and definitely has potential to have a substantial impact.

What is your sport? (played, watched and/or enjoyed)

Cricket & Rugby predominantly, poor but enthusiastic Surfer and recently completed a Triathlon, but Becki (my GF) beat me so we don’t talk about that one.

Tom Morton surfing.

What have you enjoyed the most working in the sport and leisure industry so far?

More often than not in the sport and leisure industry it goes past being “just a job”, working in this environment will generally stem from having a passion for sport and activity. For this interest and enthusiasm to be taken into your daily job can be immensely satisfying and enjoyable to work with others who have similar interests.

What would be your advice for any graduate/young person wanting to start a career in sport?

With so many sports graduates and much fewer jobs I would encourage them to accept and embrace smaller opportunities whilst studying or otherwise; this might be the foot in the door which you need and valuable experience in addition to any qualifications.

What do you think of the range of working opportunities available for students at Sport Solent and Southampton Solent University?

They are fantastic! As a student I was fortunate enough to have a range of student jobs at Solent, from working on the door of the SU to driving the mini bus and coaching for Sport Solent. This has now been developed to support a wider number of students in a more recognisable format, such as the post graduate internships which I and many other current employees experienced. I believe this is an aspect of studying at Solent which sets students up really well for the future and surpasses a number of other universities in this field.

What is the best bit of advice you have ever heard?

“Don’t play in the front row; you will regret it in the future.”

If you had to be trapped in a lift with anyone famous who would it be?

Jonny Wilkinson

Tom Morton relaxing at spinnaker tower.

In a parallel universe where would you be, and doing what?

I don’t know but it would involve a ball and it would be sunny.

What would your last supper be?

This is a tough one; I think it would have to be my mother’s lasagne.

Banner image courtesy of: Breadalbane