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St Mary’s Launches new Sport and Faith Research Centre

The Faculty of Sport, Health and Applied Science (SHAS) at St Mary’s University, Twickenham last night launched the Sport, Wellbeing, Inclusion and Faith (SWIFT) Research Centre.

The Faculty of Sport, Health and Applied Science (SHAS) at St Mary’s University, Twickenham last night launched the Sport, Wellbeing, Inclusion and Faith (SWIFT) Research Centre.

Prof Symeon Dagkas, the Dean of SHAS and Co-Director of SWIFT, introduced Prof Mons Vladimir Felzmann, aka Father Vlad, to deliver the key note speech before receiving thanks from Dr Abbe Brady, Head of Department for Psychology & Pedagogical Science.

The SWIFT Research Centre aims to achieve valuable outcomes for young people by drawing on contemporary ideas and research to develop innovate thinking and action in sport, wellbeing, inclusion and faith.

Pope Benedict XVI launched the John Paul 2 Foundation 4 Sport (JP2F4S) at St Mary’s University in September 2010.

JP2F4S is akin to a Trade Association as it inspires, motivates, enables and supports Sports Clubs to be conceived and grow; helping them to find funding while monitoring and mentoring their leadership to sustain the values of JP2F4S; encouraging them to communicate their achievements onto a wider stage.

Exercise improves not only concentration but also the ability to absorb information, education. Sport teaches self-discipline and that getting up is far more important than falling down. It also reduces obesity and improves social cohesion.

Underpinned by its philosophy of dreaming vast, starting small, growing fast, it has been seeking partnerships. In St Mary’s, it has now found its ideal mate.

Father Vlad said “SWIFT is about Sport, Wellbeing, Inclusion and Faith and developing these values within young people. We are looking to develop the character and self-esteem required to help them move forward and to teach coaches how to instil this in the young people they work with.”

Prof Symeon Dagkas said “We are very excited about the future of this research center and its contribution to the research community at St Mary’s but beyond, nationally and internationally. And I am more excited about its impact in changing young people’s lives as well as coaches and teachers.”

The aims of the SWIFT Research Centre will be to: 

  • Produce research that supports the development of knowledge and applications in the areas of:
  • The knowledge landscape and applied initiatives relating to life skills, developmental assets, character strengths and virtues for young people
  • Teacher and coach awareness and experiences of holistic development of young people
  • Education resources and programmes in life skills, character strengths and virtues for physical education teachers and coaches
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions and applications in life skills, character and virtues with young people and with teachers and coaches
  • Work with local, national and international communities and organisations to support young peoples’ life skills through informed programmes
  • Train and support sports coaches to support the embedding of life skills, character and virtues into youth community coaching (thus extending the existing work by JP2F4S)


Board of Trustees of the Research Centre

Professor Anne Moran

June Mulroy

Dave Hartnett

Professor Monsignor Vladimir Felzmann (founder of JP2F4S)

Professor Symeon Dagkas




Dr Abbe Brady, Co-Director (Head of Department, Psychological and Pedagogical Science)

Professor Symeon Dagkas, Co-Director (Dean of Faculty, SHAS)

Professor John Charmley (Pro Vice-Chancellor, Academic Strategy) 


Advisory Group

Dr Jamie North (Associate Dean of Research and Enterprise, SHAS)

External Academic Professor Louise McCuaig, Queensland University (5 years fixed term)

Representative from the Students’ Union 


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