- Course studied:
- Sports Therapy
- Year of graduation:
Matt Roach launched into a career in professional football – not as a player but a sports therapist – following personal injury. The Yorkshire-born footballer had always enjoyed sport when a torn knee ligament put him on the bench. His own recovery guided his decision to enter into sports therapy with a degree from Staffordshire University.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career when I was younger but I was from a sports background so always had that interest,” Matt said. “I stopped playing sport when I was 16 because I had a bad football injury. I tore my ACL and damaged the cartilage in my knee and was out for ages. Going through recovery, I realised I didn’t want to get into coaching so I decided on the therapy route.”
He now works for Championship side MK Dons, following a work placement at League One team Shrewsbury Town and part-time work with the semi-professional Ossett Town. His duties include pre-match and pitch side care, attendance at training sessions and the rehabilitation of injured players.
Matt gained the skills and knowledge needed to work in professional football during his time at Staffordshire University. Embarking on a Sports Therapy degree in 2012, he highlights his placement at Shrewsbury Town as essential for where he is today.
“I applied for five different universities when I was 18 and Staffordshire University was the best of those,” recalled Matt, originally from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. “The course was very hands on and, in third year, I went on placement at Shrewsbury town from October to May – eight months to the end of the season.
“I was doing one or two days during the week plus Saturdays and Sundays, when they were playing. We’d work directly with the players, helping to manage and rehabilitate their injuries. Most of my work was with the youth teams – the under 18s.
“The placement definitely helped when it came to finding a job after graduation. It also showed me what I wanted to do. I was at a professional football club, helping pitch side and in the gym, and gaining a lot of experience. It was very fast paced and thorough, giving me a great understanding of what it’s like to work in professional sport.”
Matt spent five months applying his skills at Ossett Town after returning to Yorkshire but had ambitions of working for a professional team. He began contacting football academies and clubs around the country before Milton Keynes based MK Dons got in touch. He has been with the club for seven months, working weekend injury clinics, attending away games, providing assessments and rehabilitation exercises.
Matt is now keen to continue his education and undertake a Master’s degree in physiotherapy. Taking his experience working with professional athletes, he wants to help a broader range of patients, such as those in hospital recovering from neurological and cardiopulmonary conditions caused by strokes.
“I love my job at MK Dons and I’d like to continue but I’ve applied for a two-year Master’s degree to develop my knowledge and broaden my job prospects. My undergraduate degree and previous work experience will stand me in good stead for that sort of work. I can see myself potentially swapping the dugout for a hospital ward in future but I will always enjoy working in sport as well.”