2017 USW / EFL Trust Student Awards

RISING stars from the world of community football have been formally recognised by the University of South Wales (USW) in partnership with the EFL Trust for their efforts in promoting the sport across the UK.

Students and professionals based at championship and league clubs including Sheffield United and Wigan Athletic have emerged as national winners in the 2017 USW/EFL Trust Student Awards after nominees were selected from students working towards the USW Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development.

Based at professional clubs nationwide, students are supported in completing their degree qualification remotely via a blended learning platform – an innovative approach that places the learner within the industry setting and enables them to apply their knowledge alongside study accordingly.

Launched in 2014 as a joint venture between USW and EFL Trust to provide a solid theoretical and practical foundation of professional coaching skills, as well as opportunities to acquire nationally recognised United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) coaching awards, the degree course also serves to identify up and coming industry talent through its annual awards scheme.

Starting with a shortlist of regionally selected nominations, the national winners in this year’s Academic Student of the Year and Professional Practice Award categories have now been announced.


Wigan Athletic’s Sean Rowlinson was named Year One Student of the Year after impressing judges with outstanding grades and an unprecedented commitment to supporting his fellow students. Colleague Gareth Shaw scored a double whammy for the club by claiming the Year Two title in recognition of his approach to successfully balancing the delivery of development centre sessions, achieving consistently high grades and full-time work as a Schools Sports PE Co-ordinator.

Sheffield United’s John Caven took the Year One Professional Practice Award after successfully combining his academic commitments with those required of him as a school and community-based coach, as well as a father of three, to excel in all areas. His colleague Ash Abbotson claimed the Year Two title after contributing 300 hours of voluntary work to support a range of activities for the benefit of players with a disability via extra-curricular sessions provided by the club.

Course leader Jay Probert explained “These awards serve to highlight the wealth of up and coming talent the professional football environment has to draw on both via the University of South Wales and industry wide. As a pioneering course provider seeking to provide students with an ‘industry-ready’ approach, the team here at USW are heartened and delighted evidence of such dedication and commitment continues to come to light.”

Selected by a panel of USW academics with a combination of achieved grades and commitment to professional practice such as volunteering, coaching, work placement and other opportunities in mind, winners in the 2017 awards scheme also included the following:

Regional Winners

Academic Performance Award

North West Region

  • Year One: Sean Rowlinson (Wigan Athletic)
  • Year Two: Gareth Shaw (Wigan Athletic)

North East Region

  • Year One: Tom Fogg (Sheffield Utd)
  • Year Two: Josh Blunkett (Sheffield Wed)

Central Region

  • Year One: Myles Cooper (Burton Albion)
  • Year Two: Niall O’Grady (Derby County)

South Region

  • Year One: James Miller (Portsmouth)
  • Year Two: Dumi Madhiazi (Brentford) 

Professional Practice Award

North West Region

  • Year One: Ewan Mooney (Blackpool)
  • Year Two: Joe Pym (Wigan Athletic)

North East Region

  • Year One: John Caven (Sheffield Utd)
  • Year Two: Ash Ibbotson (Sheffield Utd)

Central Region

  • Year One: Bradley Moore (Wolves)
  • Year Two: Alex Parker (Cheltenham Town)

South Region

  • Connor Miller (Brentford)
  • Liam Jenkins (Newport County)