carnegieXchange: School of Sport

The PE graduate who is working with the FA and Kick It Out to eradicate discrimination in football

After studying a sociology module which was part of her PE degree, Rachel Owen went on to secure a job with the FA and is now continuing her studies with an Inclusive Leadership in Football Award which aims to eradicate discrimination in sport.

Image of Rachel Owen

"One of the reasons I chose to study PE at Leeds Beckett was because of the Carnegie School of Sport's reputation. The modules on my course were diverse. You can tailor your learning towards your own personal interests, for example if you were into Strength and Conditioning (S&C), Analysis, or Outdoor Education. The sociology module in my second year really helped to develop my interest in trying to understand more about equality & diversity (E&D) and dissecting societal inequalities in the PE curriculum.

Whilst studying at university, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a career. I knew I wanted to work in sport but wasn’t sure in what capacity. The modules on my PE course offered plenty of opportunities for those who wanted to teach, but there were also broader options for people who didn’t want to take that route. I was one of the students in my year group who didn’t go into teaching. The diverse modules on the course really make you realise how many career paths you could go down with a PE degree.

Since graduating in 2018, I’ve secured a job working within the County Network at Lancashire FA. Working within the Facilities & Investment division as a Facilities Investment Officer, I lead on key enhancement projects, supporting local authorities, key funding partners (Football Foundation, Premier League and the FA), football clubs, and schools. I work with a range of community groups to develop sustainable grant funding applications to support the investment in their facilities. My role involves a lot of partnership management of football facility growth across LFA and our affiliated Clubs.

I love that every day is different. It's my job to best advise organisations on how to help improve their facility, which could be anything from a new 3G, clubhouse, or grounds maintenance equipment. The best feeling is when a project comes to fruition and you can see the impact the investment you helped facilitate has made on the community.

My interview for this role entailed researching and presenting a funding opportunity for a project of my choice, I was given a project budget and told to be as creative as I'd like. I drew on what I’d learnt in my Lifelong Participation module at Leeds Beckett which really helped provide the framework for my ‘pitch’!

As well as my job at the FA, I’m currently completing the Inclusive Leadership in Football Award which is sponsored by Kick it Out. The aim of the course is to equip and empower those working in football to develop the knowledge and understanding required to make the game, and your organisation, truly inclusive. The course has provided a lot of thought-provoking content. Unfortunately we live in a world where people are still discriminated against every day, so I’m passionate about educating myself on practical solutions which will ultimately help eradicate discrimination in football.

Outside of my studies at Leeds Beckett, there were lots of opportunities to progress my personal interests. I joined the women’s football team in my second year, and it was one of the best decisions I made. I met so many like-minded people and had so much fun! I was also a course representative in my tutor group, which involved speaking to students from different modules, understanding their opinions, and helping them with any struggles they may have had within their electives and feeding that back to the university’s Senior Leadership Team. In my final year, I was also part of the Course Revalidation meeting which only happens every few years, and which was a real opportunity for us students to have our say on the course and contribute to shaping and changing course modules.

My advice to new students studying PE would be to make the most of your PPD/employability modules, as this is a time for you to explore what you might want to do for a career. Try and reach out to organisations whose work interests you, or target companies you think you may one day like to work with, and have conversations to try and gain experience or get your foot in the door. The relationships and connections you build may provide opportunities or be able to point you in the direction of someone who will."