Abbie Williams is a Graduate of the University of Gloucestershire and a very determined young woman. She has spent the last year working at AFC Bournemouth of the Premier League and it has been an immensely positive experience for her.
Abbie, why did you decide on Sports Therapy and why Gloucestershire?
Sports Therapy was a natural progression for me, having always wanted to work in a hands-on job. I knew for a while I wanted to do something rehab and sports based. The course at the University of Gloucestershire offers the best mix of practical hands on learning with a vital theoretical underpinning. The lecturing team were amazing and they were the ones who helped me make my decision to attend Gloucestershire to complete my Sports Therapy degree.
How did the internship come about?
The Internship was advertised through my University. It was a no brainer for me to apply having gained the majority of my undergraduate experience in football. I knew having graduated I wanted to be in an immersive environment where I could learn every day. I applied, had an interview and after a nervous wait, I was offered the position.
Do you live near Bournemouth?
Yes, I come from Weymouth which is about 1 hour from Bournemouth. However, in order to completely commit to the Internship, I moved to Bournemouth with the club’s support.
Were you working with Academy or Senior players or both?
I was primarily working with the first team on a daily basis but I also spent some time with both the Academy and under 23’s.
Can you tell us about what you did on a day to day basis?
Every day would vary. Generally, we would set up and help with readiness to train screening, prehab as well as plenty of massage work. Of course, being an intern comes with its fair share of housekeeping and maintenance jobs like keeping the treatment room and hydro pool clean and tidy. We also got to work alongside the senior physios and Sports Therapists as they went through rehab programs with the injured players. We attended every home game and would assist with work on match days.
How long were you there for?
I was there for the whole of the 2016-2017 Season (June-May).
Is it what you expected?
Overall, I am incredibly grateful for the experience I have been able to gain at AFC Bournemouth, and I feel I have developed so much as a therapist over the last year. The whole medical team were great mentors to me and helped me improve in all aspects of my practical and theoretical knowledge. Steve Hard, the Head Physiotherapist who initially trained as a Sports therapist and it was great to have his guidance, but also an eye opener to see that there is plenty of respect for Sports Therapists in top flight football. Nothing prepares you for being thrown into the fast pace of professional sport, but it is what I expected and more. It has been a real privilege to spend a season there and the experience I have gained has been vital for my professional development
Do you want to work in football longer term?
I would love to work in football. However, at the moment I am looking forward to learning and experiencing new sports and seeing what different injuries occur. I want to continue to learn and develop and gain exposure in as many sports as possible. For example I have worked with cyclists, sailors, marathon runners, iron man competitors and within American football.
What advice do you have for students just graduating?
My main piece of advice is to get as much experience as you can! Don’t be afraid to get stuck in, work for free and put yourself out there. Get an internship if you think it is the right thing for you. As a graduate, you have to make contacts through work experience and often these contacts can materialise into jobs. It’s tough, put in the hard work and you will get the results.
What are your next steps after completing your internship?
I am looking forward to having a mini break from the intensity of the season. However, I will soon be starting a job in a private clinic, alongside some work in professional and semi-professional sport.
Abbie spoke to the Society because she wanted other Graduates and Student Members to know what is possible. She said:
‘I just wanted say that it has been very important for me to be able to share what I did at AFC Bournemouth to encourage other Undergraduate and Graduate Sports T herapists to step out and gain experience. But, also to show that Sports Therapy is becoming more and more recognised. As a newly graduated therapist I think it’s important that we all start sharing our experiences to help each other progress in the profession.’