University to play to the whistle

(L-R) Frank Ludolph - Sergio Lara Bercial - Kris Van Der Haegen

Leeds Beckett University has extended its partnership with European football governing body UEFA.

The extension will see experts from the university’s Carnegie School of Sport, which recently took part in’s Business of Sport webinar, continue their valuable impact-based work across two of UEFA’s highly respected junior football programmes.

The initial two-year project will see the university, led by Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial and a newly appointed Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, conduct comprehensive evaluations of both Football in Schools and PlayMakers programmes.

UEFA’s Football in Schools programme aims to enhance the quality and quantity of school-based football activities. Its PlayMakers project is working to increase the number of girls taking up the game through innovative approaches, including a ground-breaking partnership with Disney.

The university will work closely with representatives from UEFA and its 55 member national football associations to co-ordinate and conduct the evaluations.

Lara-Bercial, a reader in sport coaching at Leeds Beckett University, said findings from the two studies would be used to propose modifications and improvements to the delivery of both projects with the aim of improving participant outcomes.

He said: “Leeds Beckett University and Carnegie School of Sport have a long-standing relationship with UEFA, and it is pleasing to have been commissioned to continue this important research-led work.

“This extension comes after Leeds Beckett completed two literature reviews to inform the development of UEFA’s Football in Schools and PlayMakers Projects in 2019.

“We are proud to be continuing to shape the future of football and wider sport and helping to change lives and communities for the better through improved practice, policy and performance.”

Alongside this, the University is also continuing to make a positive difference through its position as lead partner in the iCoachKids programme. The not-for-profit movement supports grassroots coaches globally and aims to provide a safe environment for children to learn, play and enjoy football in.

The Carnegie School of Sport has been working with UEFA to further evolve the iCoachKids e-learning platform after UEFA partnered with the initiative to provide free online courses for coaches across Europe.