Andrew Sparkes, 33, from Swansea, is an UEFA A Licence goalkeeper coach.
He has worked at a number of high-profile clubs across the world including Swansea City (Premier League), New York Red Bulls (MLS), Red Bull Salzburg (Austrian Bundesliga) and Orlando Pirates (South African Premiership) where he is currently the 1st team Goalkeeper Coach.
Andrew graduated from the MSc Sports Coaching and Performance in 2018, winning the award for Outstanding Performance, and shortly afterwards was snapped up by Johannesburg-based Orlando Pirates, one of the biggest football clubs in Africa.
"This season we are competing in the African Champions League (equivalent of UEFA Champions League), which is a fantastic experience playing some of the best teams on the African continent.
"I am loving every second. Living and working in a different country is exposing me to different cultures and ways of working, which is pushing me out of my comfort zone and developing me personally and professionally.
"The MSc Sports Coaching and Performance was a fantastic learning experience for me. It offered a real cross section of modules that I draw upon every day, both on and off the pitch.
"I took the course because at the age of 31 I wanted to continue my development away from football. I also wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the theory that underpins certain aspects of my role that I implement on a day-to-day basis working in an elite football environment.
"The Mentoring module gave me the skills and strategies to become an effective mentor both in a sporting and management context, while also developing the communication skills I now use in a variety of situations and environments.
"The Effective Coaching module impacted my on-pitch delivery of sessions as it allowed me to identify my own coaching styles and behaviours, while also being able to reflect and implement them more effectively within my sessions.
"The High-Performance Environment module taught me how developing a multi-disciplinary approach and analysing multiple stakeholders within a team, coaching staff and management can help in creating and nurturing an optimum environment.
"The lectures weren’t only experienced and knowledgeable, but they also created an engaging and challenging learning environment for us. What’s more, having a variety of sports coaches within the class (rugby, hockey, netball, cricket, judo) gave a real insight into different coaching environments, and allowed us to share ideas and best practice.
"I would highly recommend USW and the MSc Sports Coaching and Performance course."