From graphic designer to the world of sports: a career change worth taking

EFLT Awards 2018 Andrew Kempson Sheffield United.jpg

Andy Kempson, a Community Football Coaching and Development Foundation Degree graduate, explains why he decided to change his career:

"I had been working as a graphic designer for the last fifteen years, ten of those were spent within a company and the last few years I have become self-employed, which I was able to fit in alongside my studies. When my son started to show an interest in football 3 years ago, he joined the local grassroots club and after a few weeks the coach asked if I would like to help him out.

This was around the same time I had started to become unhappy in my career as a graphic designer. As I began to enjoy grassroots coaching more and more, my partner Nicola “gently” persuaded me to follow my love for football and look at turning it into a career.

I initially dismissed the idea as I had no clue that working in football was really possible unless you were an ex-player at a decent level (which I am not by any means!) or had other experience within the game. It was just one of the pre-conceptions I had, which I now challenge at every opportunity!

Fast-forward almost three years from making the decision to enrol on the course, I’m involved in things I would have laughed at doing a few years ago. From studying and volunteering at a football club and their academy and community foundation to learning so much about modern coaching methods and how to apply them, along with sport science, sport development and other aspects of not only football but sport in general.

The course really does give you a broad foundation, which helps you decide on the path you'd like to take within the sports industry. The course is also structured in such a way that you can play to your strengths - personally, I’m more academic, so writing essays and reports, along with online multiple-choice tests was perfect for me and balanced out the areas that I'm still developing, such as practical coaching assessments and presentations.

You might find it similar or be the complete opposite! The variety of modules and methods of assessment means there is always something different coming up.

If you need any support, the course and module leaders at USW are only an email or phone call away and have always been great when I’ve had a query, there is a wealth of talent and industry experience on campus.

In a strange, roundabout way, it feels like I'm coming full circle as I am now exploring football in a visual way to help myself and the players better understand the game.

It seems that my previous life as a graphic designer was of some use to me after all! I intend to expand my work placement experience into a project for the third year BSc top-up to explore how performance analysis can be used as a learning tool in youth football, and after that, I hope to continue on a Masters degree, potentially exploring the topic further.

Alongside my continued learning, I intend to put my experiences and skills learned so far to good use and get on board with a local team who wish to implement performance analysis as a tool to enhance their development."