Sunday, 15 April 2012

Bonjour Switzerland!

Module 3 of the 12th edition of the FIFA Master program commenced a fortnight ago in wet and chilly Neuchatel.  Whilst the days have been long, the program for the next couple of months showcases field visits to FIFA, UEFA, IOC, UCI, IMG, FEI, MSI, OSC and Sauber which has kept spirits high in anticipation.  As far as living conditions are concerned, as expected everything in Switzerland is very expensive and the class is resigned to the fact that 2-minute noodles will be the staple diet for the remaining course duration.
Final project work is well and truly underway and my group and I are looking to consolidate a topic pertaining to the ‘integrity of sport’, particularly focusing on the current hot topic of match-fixing.  We strongly believe this a highly relevant issue which needs significant attention in order to maintain the purity of sport for future generations to come.

Friday, 27 January 2012

FIFA MA Module 2 - Milan

Time has definitely flown since the Humanities Module wrapped up in Leicester back at the end of December. Securing an internship with the Leicester Tigers Rugby organisation kept me well and truly busy during the final month of the first module. A whirlwind adventure back home to Sydney for a fortnight over Christmas wasn't in the plan but I managed to fit it in between modules and had a great time spending it with family.

Have been in Milan for 3 weeks now and still attempting to 'get up to speed' with the language and different culture as quickly as possible.  Spent a day at Vero Volley yesterday listening to a number of presentations regarding volleyball in Italy.  Was very interesting to hear from the Head Coach of the national women's team.  Also managed to get along to the San Siro not once but twice in the first fortnight living in the country.  Watched the 'Derby' between Inter and AC Milan.  Inter Milan also kindly hosted us during their game against Genoa which included dinner in their executive suite. 

Whilst the FIFA MA program itself has continued to increase in intensity, studying in Italy during a recession certainly has its positives with coffee and food being so cheap!  I think the entire class is resigned to the fact that this will be different when the program shifts to Neuchatel, Switzerland in April and for that we are taking full advantage while we can.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


All of a sudden we find ourselves at the halfway mark of the Humanities Module for the FIFA Master 12th Edition.  Had a fantastic trip to the 'Home of Cricket' and the 'Home of Rugby' yesterday; Lord's and Twickenham respectively.  Fantastic to set foot on the ground where so many legends have gone before.  Walking up the stairs to the Long Room at Lord's was incredible. To think that Don Bradman set foot in those exact surroundings to make history with the bat over 60 years ago is incredible.

We have now commenced the Internationalisation of Sport sub-module with Professor Pierre Lanfranchi. Pierre was my interviewer during the selection process and played a big part of my acceptance into the FIFA Master program.  It is fantastic to finally meet him after 6 weeks of the course.  Again I must thank Associate Professor Daryl Adair who assisted me with my application and rest assured I've passed on Daryl's regards to the rest of the De Montfort academic team!

I am making a presentation to the rest of the class on the topic of 'Australian Sport' this Friday.  Any suggestions on what I should include? I don't know how I'm going to keep to the 1/2 hour timeslot!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


A particularly great element of the FIFA Master course is the quantity and quality of field trips that CIES and the various Universities organise.  Today we returned from a visit to the Reebok Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers.  We stayed in the hotel which is fully integrated within the stadium itself.  From there we also travelled to Manchester United, Manchester City and the Professional Footballer's Association. Here's a snapshot of each visit:

PFA: Unfortunately Chief Executive Gordon Taylor was caught up in the 'Tevez Affair' and therefore wasn't available to address the class.  Instead we listened to George Berry, former Wolverhampton Wanderers player and professional footballer for 22 years.  Had a number of interesting stories to tell and gave us all an idea of how the PFA operates and how it assists players in developing their careers.

Bolton Wanderers: Have had moderate levels of success during the 20th Century including a very successful decade in the 1950's.  Have struggled to compete as well as the 'big' clubs over the past 50 years due to less available finances but have been in the Premier League for 11 consecutive seasons now.  Main goal is to continue in the top flight of English football.  Are also innovative in the way they attract new revenue streams by hosting a number of concerts at the ground and facilitating a huge number of functions throughout the Hotel itself.

Manchester United: Have a very strong attitude of 'we win the most trophies and therefore are the best club'. They believe people will follow them because they win.  Their philosophy is they don't need to change anything too drastic as their continued formula for success is working and they are the benchmark in world football.

Manchester City: Not only myself but the entire class was very impressed with this club. Yes we realise they now have huge pools of money and resources to draw upon but you still need to know how to use that money wisely.  Manchester City have done this very well.  From the quality of their presentations, attitude towards their fans and interaction with commercial partners to their overall business model are all very refreshing.  It may sound simple but from the minute we walked in we knew they cared about us. Friendly, approachable, confident in their future ambitions without being arrogant.  Providing everyone in the class with a £10 gift voucher to use in the merchandise shop was the icing on the cake to a fantastic afternoon's experience. Compare this to Manchester United who made us wait on several occasions during the tour, made very dull and predictable presentations, had the most sour and disinterested tour guide who couldn't crack a smile and wanted us out of the stadium as quickly as possible (have never heard someone use one word answers as often as he did). To cap it all off the coffee was cold. Manchester City couldn't have been more different and professional. Maybe the 6-1 result over the weekend had something to do with it but one result shouldn't affect your ability to host. It wasn't hard to pick which club you would rather support or possibly want to work for in the future.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


This week rounded off with the second instalment of class assessments on the 'Birth of Modernisation in Sport'.  Two tasks in the first 3 weeks.  The program directors don't muck around! Also had guest lectures from Nick Bitel, Chief Executive of the London Marathon and Jenny Green/James Fuller from UK Anti-Doping.

Students Alex Cabot, Rob Swain and I have founded the 'FIFA Master 12th Edition football team' and as a result, our first fixture will be an outdoor 6-a-side tournament scheduled for this weekend.  Will be good to see the talent of the local Leicester community and pitch ourselves against a number of DMU students.

FUN FACT: The 1st October was the hottest day on record for Leicester in 2011.  Peaking at 27C, I wouldn't like to know how mild their summer has been.  Regardless, there are reports that by the end of the month, it will already be snowing. What a turnaround.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "If it takes 10 to kill me, I'll take 9"...Legendary British cyclist Tommy Simpson who tragically died during Stage 13 of the Tour de France in 1967.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


Week 2 of the FIFA Master program rounded off with a field visit to 'Rugby School'. Fascinating to learn the origins of the game and various 'myths and legends' that keep historians happy. To have the very school at which he attended state that there is no real evidence William Webb Ellis ever 'picked up the ball and ran with it' was very interesting. The school itself was an exact replica of Harry Potter's 'Hogwarts' with similar architecture/decor etc. Watched a couple of pupils play 'racquetball' (another form of squash) where they hit a tiny wooden ball against a wall.  With the accuracy and power they hit it with, you wouldn't want to cop one in the eye (at which point our tour guide explained he had been hit in the stomach and hasn't been the same since).

This week, 5 classmates and I also took the opportunity to visit Emirates Stadium to watch Arsenal vs Olympiakos in the Champions League group stage.  Would have to be one of the best stadiums I've ever visited (every single seat is padded!) and even though we were quite high up, we still felt almost on the sideline as the angle of seats is such that it's nearly a sheer drop! Arsenal won 2-1 in a very entertaining game.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Week 2 of my FIFA Master journey commenced with a 'field visit' to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club; Wimbledon.  Was incredible to walk the halls of past champions, take a tour around Centre Court and Court 1 and visit the Wimbledon Museum.  We also heard a couple of speeches from tournament delegates and even got to sit in the interview chair that the players frequent after their matches. 

Today we presented our first assessment on 'How well Wimbledon has adapted to the changing world of modern sport'.  Alex, Rob, Diana, Aneeqah and myself all presented a very good argument and we were pleased with our efforts.  Will be interesting to see the marks from all presentations once they're released.  We decided to use a debate format which was unique compared to the other presentation styles and I'm hoping this enabled us to differentiate ourselves from the rest. I guess only time will tell!