USW graduate Brad Moore
There are many activities which have unfortunately but completely understandably been delayed or cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But for those enrolled on the Wolves Foundation’s degree in Community Football Coaching and Development, run by the University of South Wales (USW), the studies can very much go on.
Under normal circumstances, the academic delivery of the degree consists of lectures via an online platform hosted by the Foundation twice a week in the Study Centre at Molineux.
With that not possible at the moment, students are instead completing all their studies online at home, albeit with the support of course lecturers at USW and their Club Mentor at Wolves, Brad Moore (pictured above).
And there are probably few better placed to help them on their way than Brad, who graduated from the course himself last June to continue a journey that began at the Foundation when first checking in as a 16-year-old apprentice.
“The course would normally include a residential at the start and end of the year, and other practical assignments, but at least the cohorts from Years One, Two and Three are able to continue with their lectures via the online platform,” says Brad.
"For me, as a club mentor, it is about helping them on that journey right from year one to year three and graduation, which includes offering personal and academic support and pastoral care.
“That is probably even more important now, so I am making sure I am in regular contact with the students on the telephone and online, even if we can’t stay in touch face-to-face.
“For some, we are currently around the time of their final assessments, so we need to make sure we maximise every opportunity to keep in regular contact, utilising time with their lecturers at University, and seeing what their plans are for the next couple of months.
“It is good that they are able to carry on with the course during these difficult times and communication is key to help them continue to progress.”
Brad graduated from the course last June and initially took up a teaching post only to return to Wolves within a few months when the opportunity of overseeing the Foundation’s degree and BTEC courses was one which was too good not to apply for.
“I was planning to go into the Sixth Form, but as soon as I saw that I could do an Apprenticeship with the Foundation, that seemed such a great opportunity,” says Brad, who attended Bishop Milner Catholic College in Dudley.
“After those two years, I moved on to the degree, combining studying with real experience and picking up skills which would make me more employable.
“There are so many different modules on the course which helps prepare you for a career in sport, and what I learned during the three years really helped me to progress.
“Whether it was from project management, or the teaching experience or coaching experience – which included travelling to Germany, Belgium and Cyprus – it all came together to make up a degree which taught me so much.
“I have managed to get a full-time job with the Foundation and others have gone on to become PE teachers and sports coaches out in the region.
“We are looking for people who want to begin their journey and pursue a career in the sport & education industry to apply for the degree.
“There are also other modules including sports science and business in football, and we are pleased that the employability rate from this degree is very high.”
Bobby Briers, course leader at USW, is full of praise for the efforts of Wolves Foundation staff in helping forge such a strong partnership in delivering the degree.
“Wolves have been an exceptional club in the contribution of students on our course,” says Bobby.
“They have been delivering the programme for three years, with a 100% first-time pass rate completion on all students who have enrolled onto the course.
"They provide a well-structured and accessible education programme which supports students undertaking their Foundation Degree and, from recruitment to graduation, they have proved they are supportive every step of the way with some fantastic current student stories and alumni recognition.
"There is clear evidence that the Wolves education department provide development both academically and professionally, preparing students for the very competitive football development & coaching industry.”
For Brad, now 22, this new role is very much a labour of love, given he is a lifelong Wolves fan.
He also feels a great sense of pride at playing a part in the overall activities which the Foundation offers for the community of Wolverhampton and beyond.
“If someone had said to me when I first arrived as an apprentice at 16 that I would be doing the job I am now just a few years later I would probably have been shocked,” he admits.
“I am a massive Wolves fan, I have supported them all my life, and it is a pleasure to be around the club.
“Working for the Foundation doesn’t really feel like work – I get out of bed every day and know I am going to enjoy what I am doing.
“To be impacting the community for the club I have always supported and knowing what the badge represents is very rewarding and brings a real sense of pride.”
Dylan Cook, 19, from Wolverhampton, is just about to finish his first year.
We asked what he thought of the course, and how things have worked for him during lockdown.
What is your connection with Wolves?
I've been a Wolves fan my entire life. I started my coaching education at Telford College around three years ago, on the football course they have that is linked with the Wolves Foundation. We played games every week, representing Wolves, which was a fantastic experience. After completing my two years at college, I applied to the Community Coaching and Football Development Foundation Degree at USW. We study at Molineux and complete all our lectures online.
How has the online training worked for you?
It took some time to adapt, but overall it has been excellent, we get a lot of work opportunities within the Foundation and, due to the lectures all being online, we can work around our working hours.
We have time in the study centre with Brad, where we can ask any questions we have and, along with this, every Friday we get a chance to book a tutorial spot for any help we may need.
So, while all the lectures are online, we also have Brad - who has been where we are - to help us through our learning.
What’s the difference under lockdown?
Luckily, we were close to finishing our first year just as we went into lockdown. The main difference was the lack of working experience, but we still managed to learn and gain some experience as we had CPDs on Zoom to help us during the time. We also had Brad available to talk to when we needed.
What do you hope to do once you have completed your study?
I will be hoping to have gained a lot of coaching experience throughout my three years, and will be looking at hopefully getting a job within the Foundation. The experience will be very useful as it can set me up for other future roles within coaching or school sports.
What is your experience of studying a USW course?
So far the experience is very positive. It took some getting used to during the first month as it was different to what I have experienced before. It was definitely worth it, as I feel as I have already developed a lot as a coach and a person during this time.
We recently got back from our residential stay in South Wales, where we delivered a practical assessment to the tutors and got a chance to meet people from other clubs.
This, along with the theory of coaching and the practice, is fantastic as it allows you to apply what you have learnt instantly, and to see what works best for you. It is also great to learn from other experienced coaches who are always happy to help.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who as a passion for football and is looking to get into the coaching side, as it is a great pathway.