USW graduate aiming to grow Swansea City girls academy

Nia Davies

Making Swansea City’s young female footballers the best in Wales.

That’s the aim of Nia Davies, the club Academy’s Girls Regional Co-ordinator, who has been working on developing programmes for girls at the club since she started work there in July 2014 – and is a leading example of how a now-official partnership will help to develop football coaches of the future.

Nia, 25, who is also a B licence football coach and sport scientist for Wales Women’s under-19s, was talking at the launch of a formal agreement between Swansea City and the University of South Wales (USW), where she studied sport and exercise science.

“I was appointed a year and a half ago to develop the girls’ game at Swansea City, and was part time before that, and am now co-ordinator for the girls at regional level,” she said.

“We started from scratch really, there were no youth girls’ teams, only the ladies. So from there, we’ve got an under-eights all the way up to an under-21.”

Nia honed her abilities while at USW, and is using those skills to pass on her expertise.

“Going to the university definitely opened a lot of doors, and helped me to turn a real interest into my job,” she said. “I started playing for the uni, volunteering, getting my B-licence in coaching. I definitely wouldn’t have had this opportunity if I wasn’t at USW”

And she has big plans for the future.

“Personally I want to improve my coaching, get more licences - such as the A youth, and so on,” she said.

“With the girls’ game, I want to grow it as much as I can and put Swansea City’s girls’ programme on the map to be the biggest girls’ club in Wales.”

At the launch Rob Griffiths, Academic Manager within USW Sport, said Nia’s success is an example of what the work with Swansea City is all about.

“We’re absolutely delighted to formalise this partnership agreement with Swansea City Football Club, and to work with more people like Nia who have gone on to make a career in their chosen field after attending USW,” he said.

“We’ve been working very closely with Swansea City over the past few years to improve employability and organise student placements.

“Our new Memorandum of Understanding will help us develop other areas such as research, mentoring, training of staff, staff exchanges, but the biggest focus of all is how we embed student employability skills into our curriculum.

“Our vision with USW Sport is to create students who are employable through professional courses and vocational opportunities within those courses. So, the chance to work with a Premier League club, and Category One Academy, is absolutely fantastic for us.”

Dave Adams, Head of Coaching at the Swansea City Academy, added: “The partnership between USW and Swansea City Football Club Academy enables us to use the expertise of the various people that work with the university’s academic team.

“We’re developing a research and innovation group here at the Academy, and we’re keen to have expertise from various disciplines to support that.”

Current research projects include collecting longitudinal eccentric hamstring strength data for the academy, improving GPS load reporting to coaches, supporting and expanding the skill set of the sport scientists and improving their screening and monitoring of their players to reduce injury and protect their investment.

“In terms of producing elite football players for the Premier League, we’re looking at various areas, and we feel that the university partnership will enable us to keep continually developing programmes and players,” Mr Adams added.

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