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Higher education alumnus secures dream job with the English Schools Football Association


Haydn Evans-Wood, National Competitions Co-ordinator for the English Schools Football Association (ESFA) studied a Foundation Degree in Football Coaching at Stafford College. We recently caught up with Haydn to hear all about his experiences of education and how studying a university-level course at NSCG helped him to achieve his dream career, despite suffering a life-changing injury.

"School for me was just something I had to do, and in all honesty, nothing truly captured my imagination. My family were in the armed forces, so I moved around a lot as a child and never settled in one place for long. This did give me the ability to adapt and meet new people when I lived in Germany.

I secured the GCSE's I needed to get into college and at the time, I knew I wanted to work in sport in an active role. Studying GCSE Business also really opened up my eyes to the importance of industry and also the impact it had on life, so after studying my Level 3 qualification, I decided to study higher education at Stafford College rather than going down the traditional university route and studied a Foundation Degree in Football Coaching, Psychology, Business and Development which combined my passion for sport with my interests in business.

I cannot recommend Stafford College enough for higher education. During my studies, the support I received really inspired me, simply because they listened and cared about me and my future, and they put so much effort into helping me to focus and succeed. I enjoy every element from the practical to the theory side. Class sizes are a lot smaller at NSCG so I really benefited from this personalised learning and the course is adapted for you and your needs.

On completion of the Foundation Degree, I chose to apply to 'top-up' to a full degree - a BA (Hons) in Football Coaching and Development at Staffordshire University. However, in the summer of 2020, I was given the news that the course wouldn't be running at Stafford campus due to the pandemic, so I then transferred to Stoke campus to study an alternative sports coaching degree. Unfortunately, in October 2020, I suffered a serious life-changing sporting injury playing football and I almost lost my leg. Recovery was tough and not being able to play football was even tougher. I had no alternative than to take a break from my studies to recover.

Whilst recovering, I was still in touch with the team at NSCG who were fighting to get the 'top-up' reinstated as they had a full year group who wanted to enrol at Stafford. They really supported me and kept in touch which was incredible. After 12 months off from studying, and yet more surgery, I re-enrolled on my original choice of course - a BA (Hons) in Football Coaching and Development.

I achieved a First-Class degree which is down to the support and confidence that the NSCG team gave me, I really can't thank them enough for what they did for me. I learnt about my own standards and that it's OK to fail, but to keep trying and you will succeed. I learnt to put happiness first to ensure I have a future in sport.

Fast-forward to September 2022 when I had initially enrolled on a PGCE Physical Education, but I soon realised that I felt burnt out for studying and the course at the time, wasn't for me. I then saw the job working for ESFA and it's been an amazing opportunity for me. My future looks bright and I see myself working in football as a long-term career. I'm really enjoying making a real difference and I'm so happy at work. I still don't know what it is exactly that I want to do in the world of football, but my studies really gave me the confidence to do whatever I want to do in sport.

To anyone thinking about studying a university course at NSCG, I can really vouch for the support you will receive throughout your studies. If you're happy with your Level 2 and 3 experiences and you felt supported, then I can guarantee that you will feel the same studying a HE course at Stafford College. You will also save a lot of money studying locally on accommodation and course fees and NSCG offers stability, support, quality teaching and the staff will always have your back. With all this in mind, I can really recommend studying a higher education course at NSCG."

If Haydn's story has inspired you, find out more about studying a university course at NSCG. View our courses here.