Why Should You Study Sport? Harrison's Journey to Director of Performance Analysis at the World Cup
For many students ready to embark on their futures, making the crucial decision of what to study post-16, Sport is forced to shift from a passion to a hobby, in the search for a more 'sensible’ or ‘stable’ prospective career.
The reality is that Sport is an excellent career pathway. In 2023, there are so many more opportunities and prospects than simply playing or competing professionally. In the UK alone, the Sport industry contributes over £39 million to economy – a figure that would be far lower without all the supporting roles within the field.
Football, Rugby, Netball. Sport is no longer all about the players.
To make the game safe we need physios, to make a match fair, we need referees and to enhance the skill of the game, we need coaches and Performance Analysts.
This brings us to one of our outstanding alumni, Harrison.
After studying Sport at Weston College from 2003—2005, Harrison has gone on to have the most vibrant and successful career in football.
From the Bluebirds (Cardiff City) to Liverpool FC, all the way to his current role as Director of Performance Analysis for the Royal Moroccan Football Federation and contributing to the team’s recent success in the World Cup in Qatar, Harrison boasts an incredibly impressive portfolio of clientele and experience. Read the BBC Sport article about Harrison as the Englishman who helped to plot Morrocco's success here.
We recently caught up with Harrison, who told us all about his journey into the Performance Analysis industry. He says:
My career started whilst I was still a student at University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC) now known as Cardiff Metropolitan University. My first step and knowledge of the Analysis industry came from a course module and task we were given. This led to an internship with Cardiff City's Youth & Reserve teams, and I combined this role with my undergraduate studies, taking specialist modules in Performance Analysis (now a course in its own right).
Beyond this I continued gaining as much experience as possible and continued my studies by starting a Masters in Performance Analysis (also at UWIC). In this time, I worked with various teams in different sports (Welsh Football Association, Welsh Rugby, University of Glamorgan) and in a variety of roles.
My next step was into full time employment with Tottenham Hotspur U18 as the Youth Team Analyst. From here I made the move into the 1st team football environment with Burnley FC (Head of Analysis/1st Team Analyst) and then onto Liverpool FC (Head of Post Match Analysis). I was really able to take something and learn from each experience.
My current role is Director of Performance Analysis for the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, it is a wide-ranging role covering many aspects including creating and managing an Analysis Department to provide analysis support for all our national teams (across all age groups/categories).
I enjoy all aspects of the role as I get to do a mixture of everything. Of course, a huge highlight was working with the National team for the recent World Cup in Qatar, privileged and proud to play my small part of an incredible story.
In layman's terms I get to watch football for a living and, whilst it is a bit more intricate and complex than that, it is still a joy to combine a passion of mine (and many others I'm sure) and call it work. As well as this, the job has definitely offered me some of the best seats in world football at some of the best games in recent history.
Sport is a fantastic topic to study, often it is a passion and one that therefore needs little motivation to learn and improve your understanding of. It's a fantastic tool for development and of course the competitive drive often associated with it is something that really pushes people on.
My advice for new students starting out on this path is to get as much experience outside of your studies as possible. You probably don't realise how much 'free' time you have at this stage of your life, so get out there, test and challenge yourself to apply the theory you are learning, and don't always look immediately to the big names and clubs (in time it will come, if you want to arrive there). You often get a fuller, more rounded experience of the role and jobs it entails at a lower level, plus the pressure here is less so it's a good place to experiment, make mistakes, and learn.
My time at Weston college was the perfect steppingstone for further education, providing and adding to the foundation knowledge I had in sport and particularly in the Sports Science discipline. It was the ideal place for me to continue my studies and combine this with a continued education in football. I learned and developed many key skills from my time at Weston College, gaining coaching qualifications also.
Huge thanks to Harrison for such incredible insight into exciting pathways and opportunities within the wider Sports industry.
To read more about our Sport programmes, click here.
If you are passionate about education and are looking for an opportunity to join the staff team at a leading college, then look at the latest job vacancies available at Weston College here. You can find all the latest job opportunities that Weston College has to offer, with a commitment to providing quality education to students and a focus on continuous professional development for staff, Weston College is an excellent place to work and grow in your career.