Students from the Physical & Sport Education (PSE) programme at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, were given the opportunity to gain industry experience with Fulham FC Academy during a placement as part of their course.
The level six undergraduates gained unique access to staff, players and processes of an academy system that has produced players such as Manchester United and England International Chris Smalling and Celtic FC’s Moussa Dembélé.
After gaining understanding of how the club identify talent the students got to watch an under-18 match between Fulham and Aston Villa to put their observation skills to the test, completing scout and game reports on the match and feeding back to recruitment and coaching staff.
The students will visit the club twice more to access players across different phases; U-9s, U-15s and U-18s to see how the club’s talent ID processes and values are spread across its whole academy.
Speaking about the opportunity, current student Neo Kashioulis said, “The PSE course has given me a fantastic chance to get invaluable hands-on experience within the talent identification field with such a well-known and respected club like Fulham and it’s both fulfilling and challenging to be able to work alongside and learn from industry experts like Dan Rice.
“I’d like to thanks St Mary’s for arranging this so I can apply the theory we are taught into a real-world setting and Fulham for allowing us exclusive access which has confirmed my passion for this field."
Programme Director, Dean Beaver said, “It’s testament to our staff and students that clubs like Fulham are happy to provide the platform to contextualise learning from the course and to provide insight into how theory is applied in the real world.
“This truly unique experience to contribute to organisations like the Talent ID department is symptomatic of the degree programme as we strive to continue to provide opportunities to help students make decisions around their long-term career prospects.”
Dan Rice, who taught the students, is Academy Recruitment Manager at Fulham and responsible for overseeing the scouting network that identifies talented players who could transit into the academy from 9-16 years old.
He said, “When the opportunity came around to work alongside St Mary’s, I was excited to mentor this project as professionalising scouting as an industry is at the forefront of my work within Fulham and the FA so I offered the students a chance to see how we operate and to work as scouts for the club during an U-18 match which allowed them to see what is expected from a Category 1 academy scout.
“Each student was given an individual player to report on from the game along with a scenario-based theme and is very similar to the tasks I would set my full time scouts.
“I believe this mentor project will continue to allow students to experience scouting as a potential career option which is why I’m looking forward to working with the students across the next two placements.”