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University students working with La Liga giants Athletic Bilbao

Students and staff from the University of Gloucestershire’s School of Sport and Exercise will be working with top-flight Spanish football team Athletic Club Bilbao to help injury prevention in youth players. Students Samantha Coleman and Matt Coley will travel with staff members Dr Matt Cole, Dr Jonathan Hughes, Dani Ritson and Professor Mark De Ste Croix to Bilbao at the end of April.

Mark De Ste Croix, Professor of Paediatric Sport and Exercise, said: “we have been approached directly by the club as they have had a large increase in the number of injuries in their youth academy this season. A number of new coaches have come into the academy this season and there may need to be some coach education in terms of injury risk during growth and maturation.”

The students will be collecting data through a series of tests with the club’s academy players over an entire week, which they will then analyse to offer guidance on injury risk. Sports Coaching student Matt Coley said: “I was delighted with this opportunity – to get more experience through injury research and collecting data will be valuable for me. As my goal is to eventually become a football manager I always like to gain insights across other job roles which will be linked with my own.”

Samantha Coleman, currently in the third year of a Sports Therapy degree, said: “When I found out I had been selected I was over the moon – I am looking forward to seeing how a professional academy set up works in Spain. I have been lucky enough to see this at the top level in England and it is an incredible experience to be able to do the same in Spain. The trip will help me with my future career; I aim to work in football and this experience will show me vital skills I will be calling upon in any job I get in the future.”

Athletic Club Bilbao were founded in 1898 and are currently in the top half of the La Liga table and in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Image courtesy of Euskaldunaa – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0