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St Mary's University

St Mary’s Football Placement Students Take Part in Ultimate Player Experience at SL Benfica

Students at St Mary’s University, Twickenham (SMU) travelled to Lisbon in partnership with Mango Football Club to deliver an Ultimate Player Experience at SL Benfica, home to the two-times European Cup Champions and most successful club in Portugal.

Lower half of footballer bring football under control on grass field

Students at St Mary’s University, Twickenham (SMU) travelled to Lisbon in partnership with Mango Football Club to deliver an Ultimate Player Experience at SL Benfica, home to the two-times European Cup Champions and most successful club in Portugal.

Eight students from SMU travelled to Benfica for a week in November to run an Ultimate Player Experience on behalf of Mango Football Club. Mango FC provides opportunities for youth football players to experience what life as a professional football player is like.

The SMU students were given the opportunity to provide a range of player support within an elite environment across the sports science, performance analysis, coaching and physiotherapy disciplines. Students were further supported by professional license coaches and experts within the professional game.

Students Kwame Agyapong Adjem and Mohammed Moaouia delivered sports science support for the football testing programme, gathering data around physical performance. Dominika Netschova and Adam Straw coached the players alongside ex-Premier League and National Team coaches Kit Symonds and David Howells, while Tom Stevenson and Gabby De Lord ran a performance analysis support programme during training and matches. Chloe Dodd and Alex Andrews provided physio support throughout.

St Mary’s Senior Lecturer in Performance Analysis Patrick Oxenham, who set up and delivered the project, said, “I have played a leading role in securing partnerships and opportunities for students at elite level football clubs within London, however I am really passionate about extending those opportunities wider to ensure our football footprint at St Mary’s continues to grow.

“To be able to support the development of our students and connect them to one of the biggest clubs in Europe is fantastic to see. I want to thank all eight students as well as Michael Ayres, Associate Professor in Coaching & Development at SMU in all their hard work, planning and delivery to ensure a successful experience in Lisbon.”

Sports Science student Kwame said, “It was a great experience out in Lisbon, the week provided me with an opportunity to experience what applied sports science support looks like and develop my skills in this area.”

MSc Physiotherapy student Alex said, “Thank you to Patrick for organising the week, it was a fantastic experience to deliver out of SL Benfica’s training ground. It has provided me with an opportunity to deliver physio support in football, something I have not done before.”

Due to the success of the project, St Mary’s will be looking to partner again with Mango Football to deliver more Ultimate Player Experiences in the future. 2024 will see SMU visit Inter Milan, Roma, Tottenham Hotspur, Philadelphia Union, and Malaysia.

Any SMU students studying coaching, performance analysis, sports science and physio who want to get involved in future projects can email project lead Patrick Oxenham (patrick.oxenham@stmarys.ac.uk) with their interest.

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