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University-athletes experiences of transitions following release from a professional football academy S&T57

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: S&T57

Transitions are turning phases or shifts in an athlete’s development, and can be normative or non-normative (Stambulova et al., 2009). An unsuccessful transition between junior and senior levels of elite male football results in release from a professional football academy, and is an example of a non-normative career transition. Release at this stage and has been associated with psychological distress (Blakelock et al., 2016), maladaptive coping (Blakelock et al., 2019) and identity crises (Brown & Potrac, 2009). In line with their release from a professional academy, individuals may also simultaneously experience the transition between secondary and higher education (Wylleman & Lavaelle, 2004). This transition has also been shown to involve a series of demands and challenges (Tekavc et al., 2015). Furthermore, within the sport of football, which is professionalised at young age, it is possible that these individuals did not foresee university as part of their development, hence the experiences of individuals undergoing these transitions are unique and have yet to be explored. Therefore, we are interested in examining the experiences of individuals who have been released from academy football and are simultaneously transitioning to University as student-athletes.

Indeed, this process could be psychologically damaging to a large number of young people, and so there is a need to examine this phenomenon in greater detail and develop interventions to improve the lives of these individuals. The research that has been conducted has tended to be retrospective in nature, where student-athletes are asked to recall their experiences, and thus suffers from issues such as memory decay and bias. A prospective longitudinal approach would allow us to examine these holistic transitions live, and better understand an individual’s experiences, and their football and academic development. On the basis of this, we would develop an intervention aimed at aiding the mental health and wellbeing of student-athletes experiencing these transitions, ultimately supporting young peoples’ welfare and development.

Entry Criteria: UK 1st Class / 2.1 Bachelor’s degree (or UK equivalent according to NARIC) (essential) in Sport and Exercise Science, Sport and Exercise Psychology, or related discipline. Strong UK Master’s degree (or UK equivalent according to NARIC) (desirable) in Sport and Exercise Science, Sport and Exercise Psychology, or related discipline. An appreciation of both quantitative and qualitative research methods will be important.

Contact Details: For informal discussions about the PhD, please contact Dr Chris Saward.

School strategic research priority

This research aligns with the Sport, Health and Performance Enhance Research Centre, specifically in relation to both the Sport Performance Research Group and the recently formed Sport and Society Research Group. Furthermore, the work is closely aligned with the health and well-being research theme within the University.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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