Wrexham Glyndŵr University students have seen how top-level footballers deal with the media in the run-up to a crunch fixture.
Jamie Crowther and Ashley Russell – in the final year of their BSc Football Coaching and the Performance Specialist studies – attended an FAW press conference at the university, where Joe Allen, Johnny Williams, Will Vaulks and former Wrexham player Neil Taylor faced questions from the media ahead of this weekend’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Croatia.
Ryan Giggs’ squad made a good start to their latest qualifying campaign with a hard-fought home victory over Slovakia in March, and are looking to get a good result against the World Cup finalists in Osijek on Saturday.
The squad have spent the week training at the FAW’s new £5 million National Football Development Centre in Colliers Park.
Jamie, 27, is a midfielder for Welsh Premier League side Caernarfon Town and also coaches at the Airbus Academy. He is set to return to Glyndŵr to start a postgraduate course in September.
He said: “It was a good insight for us to see how the media works in terms of the players having to speak to different people, and how they maintain their composure really – they were asked some difficult questions and it was good to see they it all works.
“In the Welsh Premier League we get a lot of S4C coverage, so it’s good to see the way the players go about their work in terms of how they deal with the media.
“As coaches, we might be put into that situation one day and it was good to see how you deal with that.”
Ashley, 21, hails from Rhosddu in Wrexham and coaches at The New Saints Academy.
“It’s great to see elite performers at the top level – and to see how they communicate with others away from the pitch,” he said.
“As coaches, we see a lot on the pitch so it was good to see media duties and other things away from it too.”
The students attended the press conference and had the chance to meet and have photos taken with the players afterwards.
The Football Coaching and the Performance Specialist degree is an innovative programme which integrates football coaching awards into an academic course to help you gain employment in the football industry.
The degree is designed in partnership with the Football Association of Wales (FAW), expanding football-specific knowledge and its application to the football environment.
Jamie, from Mold, was full of praise for the content of the course and lecturers Sara Hilton and Chris Hughes.
“The best thing about to for me was how we could take the knowledge from the theory within the classroom out onto the pitch itself,” he said.
“It’s been great how Sara and Chris have integrated the theory side of football into the real world – and we’ve been able put it into practice with the young children and first-team players we work with on a daily and weekly basis.”
Ashley added that the course had been beneficial not only to him but also to the players he coaches.
“The course has been really good, so detailed, and as a practitioner, it’s great to apply the theory to your practice. I feel like it’s given me so many opportunities away from the university, and within it too,” he said.
“The contact time with Sara and Chris has been fantastic and being part of a very close-knit group has also been great.”
An FAW spokesperson added: “The Football Association of Wales are delighted to have had two students from the BSc Football Coaching and the Performance Specialist studies join and observe the player media session for the national team at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.
"We hope that the students have gained an important insight into this particular aspect of international football, one which could possibly aid them in their future careers as coaches.”
For more information about Glyndŵr’s Football Coaching and the Performance Specialist degree, visit https://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/Undergraduatecourses/FootballCoachingandthePerformanceSpecialist/