Mustafa Sarkar - Associate Professor, Sport and Exercise Psychology
Mustafa’s research aims to bring the resilience of elite sportspeople into the workplace. We’re supporting him with autonomy, trust, and plenty of opportunities.
I really appreciate the leadership, support and autonomy I’ve been given here, and all the incredible opportunities to take on senior roles and responsibilities.
I’ve always loved cricket. And at 14, 15, I was pretty talented – better than most of my peers.
But I just couldn’t seem to take critical feedback on board. And because of that – because I didn’t quite have it, psychologically – I never made it to County Cricket level. I suppose that’s what started me off on this sport psychology path.
I joined NTU in October 2015. It was an up and coming department, and I was given the chance to shape and create the curriculum. It was an incredible opportunity to take Sport and Exercise Psychology in the direction we wanted to. People are increasingly associating sports science with NTU, and that makes me very proud.
My research is focused on helping individuals, teams, and organisations to develop resilience. There’s this great quote from the Harvard Business Review: “resilience is the capacity to change, before the case for change becomes obvious.” It’s about proactive strategies to manage stress, as opposed to reactive ones. It’s exciting, interesting work, and there’s so many potential applications – from the colleagues and students at NTU, to business, law enforcement, even the military. It’s about creating environments where people feel safe to experiment, and even make mistakes. Places where there’s no fear of failure. The habits and strategies of elite sportspeople needn’t be limited to sport.
I really appreciate the leadership, support and autonomy I’ve been given here, and all the incredible opportunities to take on senior roles and responsibilities. It’s improved me as an individual, and not just as an academic. I’ve been able to craft my own path along the way, and I love the variety of my job. I like teaching, I like research, and I like practice: as a consultant, I’ve worked with NTU Sport, the Premier League, Hockey Wales, Cricket Scotland, the Netherlands Olympic Committee… It’s great to be part of an institution that not only allows you to do all of these things, but actively encourages you to demonstrate the impact of your research.
Like they say: better never stops. To foster resilience, you need to get the balance right between challenge and support. And it feels like they’ve got that balance here.