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Alumnus becomes Sports Science Head at Fulham FC

Alastair Harris

When I came for the Open Day and saw the facilities, I was certain that I’d enjoy my time here

Alastair, Alumni

Head of Sports Science, Fulham Football Club

BSc Business Studies & Sport Sciences - 2009

From UK

Tell us about your career journey since you graduated…

I have worked at Fulham FC for eight seasons; starting out for a season on work experience, then being fortunate enough to get a paid consultancy contract for the following season. The following year I was employed as a full time member of staff, with the responsibility to plan and deliver the physical programming of the 16's-9's programme. Halfway through this season an opportunity became available at first team level and I was successful in my application. Since then I have progressed to the Head of Sports Science role and have been doing this for the last three seasons.

What does an average day at work involve for you?

Each day is completely different. It very much depends how far we are from or to a competitive match. In summary, the first part is planning, then the rest is filled with delivery (physiological / subjective monitoring info, pre training activation sessions, training, post training gym based sessions etc.), then finally the analytic side where we review the data collected and plan for the next day / week.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

As in any elite sport there have been plenty of ups and downs. I genuinely love my job and one of my favourite aspects is having to form a different relationship with 25 completely different individuals in order to get the most out of each of them every day. As for one moment, I'd have to say the playoff final last season. It was an incredible experience and to gain promotion back to the Premier League in that setting was something I will never forget.

How would you say Brunel helped you to get where you are today?

Brunel gave me the academic platform to embark on the career I am doing today. It was always the goal to gain employment within professional football prior to starting my studies. Fortunately, I have been able to experience and achieve that and the underlying principles of Physiology and Biomechanics I learnt at Brunel have served me in great stead. It has also given me the foundation to continue my educational development by starting a PhD in February 2018, which I hope will provide me with a broader knowledge base and allow me to develop further as a practitioner.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

I was looking for a London based university that excelled in my chosen course and Brunel obviously has a great reputation as a sporting University. When I came for the Open Day and saw the facilities, I was certain that I’d enjoy my time there and the rest was a formality.

What is your best memory of studying here?

I really enjoyed being part of the football team. It was a fantastic social network where I have been fortunate enough to make friends for life. There is a group of about 20 of us that are still in regular contact and try and meet up as much as is feasible. I'm not sure this is a regular occurrence for most students and I feel very lucky to have this.

If you could give one piece of advice to new students, what would that be?

Find a course you are passionate about; choose something that you want to learn about and immerse yourself into it. Enjoy learning the theory and then on top of that seek as many opportunities as you can to gain valuable work experience whilst you are completing your studies. Before I started my course I had seen a job advertised online for a Sports Scientist at a professional football club - I looked at the criteria required and went about trying to fulfil this by the end of my undergraduate course.

What would be your top tip or advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey?

Know exactly the profile of candidate that is required for the job role you wish to obtain. Do everything you can to tick off all of this required criteria and, where possible, align yourself with a mentor in the industry you wish to gain employment in. Making industry contacts is invaluable from an opportunity side, but also from a practical side too - there is a huge difference between the theory you learn at university and the practical delivery that takes place in elite sports.