Category Archives: Sport

American Football coach Rick touches down to scholarship success

It’s never too late to rethink your career. Just ask Rik Southworth.

After 10 years working as an accountant, Rik decided to follow his heart and turn a favourite pastime into a new career coaching American football. This brought Rik to Edge Hill University where he spent five years coaching the Lancashire American Football team and the Edge Hill Vikings American football team, winning the prestigious Edge Hill Coach of the Year award in 2016. Rik’s love of coaching resulted in him joining the University’s BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching and Development degree.

It was while preparing to study at Edge Hill that Rick heard about the Sports Scholarship. With such an impressive background in coaching and his commitment and love for sport being so evident, it’s no surprise that Rik’s application was successful!

“I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Sports Scholarship as I entered the first year of my degree.

My five years coaching before deciding to come to Edge Hill have been crammed with amazing experiences coaching American Football for the Lancashire Academy.

Before joining as a student in September, I accepted the role of Head Coach here at Edge Hill and also at Lancashire. To have finally reached the level of Head Coach in a sport I love is a dream come true. I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.

In my time with Lancashire I have travelled all over the country coaching and been fortunate enough to work alongside the Head Coach of the national team. I have also helped to make a difference to the lives of many of the athletes I’ve coached on and off the field. Experiences like this pushed me into making a career change after 10 years as an accountant and follow my love of coaching into a degree.

I couldn’t recommend Edge Hill enough to anyone looking to study coaching or sport. The facilities are world class, lecturers are always looking to help you better yourself and the courses really help to expand your knowledge.”

Daniel bowled over by international cricket success

Daniel Hamm, a member of the England PD (Physical Disability) Cricket Team, was awarded a Sports Scholarship in his first year at Edge Hill in 2013. Since then, Daniel has gone from strength to strength and played in cricket tournaments around the world. Now in his final year of his Physical Education and School Sport Degree, Daniel hopes to continue studying at Edge Hill for a PGCE. Here’s what he’s been up to…

“Since my previous tour towards the back end of my first year at Edge Hill in 2014, the time has flown by! Currently in my final year and having just submitted my PGCE application the time has truly gone too quick. I have been fortunate enough to not only go on tour again with England, but to become champions, as well as being fairly happy with the results I am gaining at university.

The tour in September 2015 was over in Bangladesh, just outside of Dhaka and the interesting country and culture added to the unforgettable experience I had. We participated in a five country tournament named the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) International Cricket Tournament for People with Physical Disabilities. The countries were ourselves (England), the hosts Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. It began after two flights consisting of about 15 hours. After stopping in Abu Dhabi, we continued on into the late night and were greeted by constantly soaring temperatures and 90% humidity, followed by rain, rain and more rain.

We began the tournament by losing against Bangladesh in front of a home crowd of a fair few hundred. We then went on to beat all of the remaining countries in the group stage to finish top of the group and to face our old enemies from the previous tour, Pakistan. This amazing experience ended with us winning the match and creating history by becoming the first team to win the whole tournament. The response from back in England was surreal. The media coverage was incredible and included tweets from various cricket players and other high profile people, as well as the opportunity to do a lap of honour around Old Trafford Cricket Ground, and playing in a Help for Heroes charity event at the KIA Oval in London.

An amazing summer concluded with my return to Edge Hill to get my head down to work hard for the grades I need for my PGCE in Secondary PE, as I am hoping to embark on a career in teaching. I’m sure the end of third year will come around a lot faster than expected and that I’ll soon be working towards a career I have always dreamt of and will enjoy.”

Kelly earns international recognition playing the beautiful game

I’ve recently been issuing our Sports Scholars with complimentary hoodies. While doing so, I bumped into Kelly Bourne, one of our Sports Scholarship winners who received a gold award last year.

Kelly was awarded a scholarship based on her achievements in women’s football. She has played for Cardiff City, Blackburn Rovers and represented her country, Wales, at U19’s level.

Kelly is now in the final year of her degree in BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Psychology. As she starts to think about what to do next, I caught up with her to chat about her achievements so far.

“Growing up with two brothers meant I often played different sports to my female friends and took an immediate interest in football. At the age of five, I would always have a ball at my feet, whether it was running through the garden, to being screamed at by my mum for ‘playing football in the house’.

When I started primary school, we had an assembly promoting a local community centre that had just opened. This caught my interest and I was there every day after school, playing football, netball, anything really that I could get my hands, or feet, on. I was even the first person to ever play football in the indoor arena at the community centre which for a young girl/aspiring female footballer, the feeling was amazing.

From there on, things got better and better, I got trials for Cardiff City Football Club and got accepted. Developing through school, I then applied for a Futsal and Education Scholarship at Cardiff City Football Club. Futsal is a great game. The small sized pitch, different size ball and the range of technical and tactical abilities required were really beneficial when going into regular 11-a-side football afterwards. I have continued playing futsal for Bristol City Futsal Club and in summer 2015 we won the Women’s Futsal FA Cup.

At the age of 18, I got my first call-up to the Welsh International set up. Just the call-up in itself is an extremely great honour but I’ve been lucky enough to represent my country four times in Hungary, Russia and in the U19’s UEFA Final Tournament which was hosted in Wales. Since starting university, I have played for Edge Hill’s women’s football team and have been playing for Blackburn Rovers Football Club.

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A common question that I get asked is ‘how do you manage to fit it all in?’ but when you are playing a sport you love so much, and you’ve spent your whole life fitting it around everything else, it’s something you just do. Towards the end of my second year in university, I got a call-up to my first ever senior international camp. The prospect was daunting but something I will remember forever. The camp went well and gave me key areas to really push on and improve individually.

The financial support from the Sports Scholarship has and will help me develop in these areas identified at the senior international camp. Likewise, the scholarship has helped fund my travel costs. Moving away from home, where I’m no longer ten minutes from the training ground, means travelling quite a distance to training sessions. Unfortunately as the women’s game is yet to grow financially, this means at Blackburn Rovers we had no expenses covered.

I am thankful for the support of the scholarship. I honestly do believe, if you are good at something, let people know about it and apply. You should be proud and not hold back!”

Keara’s summer of a lifetime

Keara Sterling, an Excellence Scholarship winner, caught up with me recently after returning from an amazing summer of volunteering in Fiji and America, as well as visiting Australia. Prepare to be very jealous as she shares her adventures below!

“I was awarded an Excellence Scholarship (for volunteering) at the end of the second year of my BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport degree. My love of sport not only inspired me to study the subject at degree level but also inspired me to volunteer in industry. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my passion in sport and motivating others to get involved. For eight hours a week I coach trampolining with ‘Momentum Trampoline Club’ and ‘BEST Gymnastics’ to young people. Four hours of this is dedicated to teaching young people with disabilities.

Not only do I volunteer in the sporting field but for the last few years I have been heavily involved in volunteering in my local community, representing the voice of young people and breaking the barriers created by the media towards young people. One of the roles I did for three years was that of ‘Voice’. This is a local youth forum that would meet for five hours a week to plan and discuss local issues in the community and how we could overcome this. Along with this volunteering, I also volunteered with ‘YAK’ (Youth Action Council) and ‘S.H.A.G’ (Sexual Health Advisory Group).

My voluntary work has enabled me to travel worldwide and visit some amazing places. This summer I was lucky enough to travel not only to America and Australia but also to Fiji. It all started in 2012 when I was nominated to represent the United Kingdom on a project in Bremen, Germany. I went out to Germany for two weeks to volunteer at military heritage sites maintaining the graves from World Wars One and Two. This was an amazing opportunity as it involved people from all over Europe.

In 2014, I was selected to spend summer in Chicago, teaching football or ‘soccer’ as they call it. This was an amazing opportunity for me to develop my subject knowledge on how to deliver a range of engaging sessions to a variety of individuals, from advanced level to beginners. Each week I would be working with a new team/group of young people. This summer I completed a similar project with ‘Challenger’ based in Texas. After completing this project I traveled back to Chicago to meet up with some friends that I made from the previous summer.

After spending three months in Texas, I returned to the UK before flying out to Australia for a a holiday and then on the way back stopped off at Fiji to take part in a Voluntary Physical Education project for four weeks. Here, I worked supporting young people at Mana Island School. I thoroughly loved working with these children and learning new skills such as weaving and attending my first Kava ceremony!

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I am now back in my third and final year and have just found out that I have been accepted on to a PGCE course starting in September 2016 – I cannot wait! I just wonder if next summer will live up to the experiences of this summer – it was definitely a summer of a lifetime!”

Rebecca scores Sports Scholarship and aims to inspire others

Rebecca Foster is one of our most enthusiastic scholars who is constantly helping to promote the scholarships across the University. She has assisted at numerous events this year and I was delighted to open my emails this morning to find she has agreed to share her achievements on this blog!

A footballer with Preston North End Ladies, Rebecca is also a referee and dreams of becoming a Physical Education teacher in the future.

Phew, just talking about all that exercise has left me needing a lie down so, without too much further ado, I’ll hand you over to Rebecca whose love for the beautiful game and Edge Hill University is infectious!

“Hello everyone! My name is Rebecca and I am in my second year at Edge Hill University, studying BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport. I have enjoyed every moment of being at University and can see why we were recently awarded ‘THE University of the Year’ because we definitely deserve it!

I was awarded a Sports Scholarship for Prospective Students in 2013. My whole life focuses around football and has done for as long as I can remember. I currently play for Preston North End and we compete in the Northern Women’s Premier League. I am also honoured this year to be the Captain for the Edge Hill University football team. As well as playing, I also referee and I am currently up for promotion to advance in the refereeing levels. One day you will all hopefully be seeing me on Sky Sports and Match of the Day!

I started playing when I was 11 for my local team Cadishead JFC. We were the first girls’ team in our area. I played here until I was 15. During my time with Cadishead JFC, I won South Manchester’s player of the season for two years, which was voted by other team players and managers. I then moved to Altrincham Juniors where I played for 2 seasons before I started playing open age football. At the time this felt like it was a massive leap playing with all of the ‘big girls’.  I started open age football with Irlam Ladies FC and then moved to play with Manchester City Ladies. This was extremely exciting for me, training and playing at a high level and having the opportunity to travel all over the country. Playing at City made me into the player I am today as I had to massively adapt my game. I improved a lot technically and found myself playing in a defensive midfield role, unlike when I was playing in a striker’s position with my local teams, I had to get used to not scoring five a game!

In 2013, I left Manchester City just before they became a Women’s Super League team and went to Preston North End where I am now and absolutely love playing here. I am part of a great club which has fantastic coaching staff, backroom staff and players. Last season we finished 2nd in the league and won the County Cup, beating Blackburn in the final (had to get that bit in there!) This year we are still in two cup competitions, the FA Plate and the County cup, where we play Blackburn (again) in the Semi-final. Two of my friends who are both also Sports Scholars at Edge Hill play for Blackburn, so we have a lot of friendly rivalry!

Preston North End have recently become partners of the “Just a ball game” campaign, raising awareness for LGBT. “Just a ball” aims to raise understanding about equality and diversity, combat discrimination and homophobia in sport. We are all massively proud to be supporting this.

So, back to University. As I have already said I love studying here and after my three years I am hoping to progress on to a PGCE course at Edge Hill, getting me that one step closer to achieving my goal of becoming a Physical Education teacher. This will enable me to educate and inspire the next generation to love sport as much as I do!”

Heptathlete Danielle on her marks for Team GB glory

Edge Hill student and heptathlete Danielle McGifford is biting at the heels of Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jessica Ennis-Hill as she progresses in her sport. Danielle’s achievements have recently been recognised with the award of a Sports Scholarship for Current Students at Gold level. I caught up with Danielle to discover how she balances training for a gruelling seven events with her studies and to find out more about her experiences competing for Team GB and being selected for Olympic trials.

“I compete in the heptathlon. The easiest way to describe what I do is it’s what Jessica Ennis-Hill is famous for! Seven events over two days, including running, jumping and throwing events. I am a member of Wigan Harriers and the majority of my training is based at Robin Park. Currently I am studying BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport, when I’m not at University nine times out of ten I’m training! With eight sessions scheduled over six days I am always kept mad busy but I guess that’s what you get for trying to take up seven events! I am not going to lie; University work is hard to juggle with this lifestyle but I use my time wisely and study whenever I get time and I have just passed my second year with an overall first which I am more than pleased with! I initially started out as a hurdler and a long jumper, where I won the English Schools title in the long jump in 2010. I then decided to take on the challenge of the Heptathlon and made a breakthrough in 2012, where I was ranked 4th in the UK in my age group.


Throughout my time competing in this discipline, I have claimed English Schools titles, National titles, BUCS titles, Northern titles, County titles and records. I have competed for Merseyside, England schools, England and Great Britain Juniors and this year the Great Britain Senior European Cup team. This was an incredible experience and one that will stay with me forever. I was only made aware that I was going to fly to Poland two days before as another contestant had to withdraw which them gave me a place in the senior team. Despite having a tough year with injuries, I had to give it a go, and I am glad I did. It is something that I will never forget as I was competing with the best heptathletes in Europe.

Despite what would seem like a good year, competing with the Senior European team, I didn’t manage to tick something off my list that I had been working towards for nearly three years which was to gain selection for the World Junior team. I was involved in a car accident earlier in the year which left me with back, neck and hip problems. I had to cut my season short, preventing me from having my chance to get the score needed to be selected. This was a kick in the teeth and something that was hard to deal with but these experiences make you stronger. Since then I have been working tirelessly on exercises and rehab to get back to my best, hoping to be able to push myself even further to get a shot at making the Senior teams once again.

Probably my greatest achievement to date would have to be being selected to compete in the Olympic trials in Birmingham for the 100m hurdles, in 2012 competing alongside world class athletes including the reigning Olympic champion Jessica Ennis – it was insane! This has definitely affirmed my desire to push myself in this field. Therefore, looking forward to my future development I would love to be able to make my mark on the Great Britain Team in Olympics, World and European Championships and ultimately begin to push towards senior medals.”

Simone has the world at her feet!

Now that the Women’s Super League season has finished, Edge Hill University Everton Ladies star Simone Magill has taken the time to reflect upon her achievements which have included winning a Sports Scholarship for Prospective Students. I don’t know how she manages to fit in playing for Everton Ladies and Northern Ireland whilst also studying towards a BSc (Hons) Coach Education degree but this year Simone has also squeezed in setting up a University Table Tennis society!

Throughout Year 1 of her degree, Simone has been helping me promote the University’s scholarships at various events as much as her football commitments have allowed. She quickly realised that I have very little knowledge about football so at these events Simone has been teaching me the basics of the beautiful game! Simone should be proud that I now know that the Women’s Super League season has just come to an end but that international matches are still in full swing! As I hand you over to Simone, here’s to a great 2015 season for Everton Ladies – Come on you Blue Girls!

“Hello, my name is Simone. I am a female footballer who plays for both Northern Ireland and Everton Ladies. I am currently in my second year at Edge Hill University studying BSc (Hons) Coach Education. In my spare time, I am a student guide for the University, which involves helping out at open days, conducting campus tours and talking to prospective students. I am also an ambassador for a local community organisation, Onside Sports Education, which helps to make an impact on the lives of people across the North West who want to further their education, vocation and qualifications in the field of sport, health and fitness. I take great pride in all I do and thoroughly enjoy every moment.

Let’s start with football. From a very early age, 4 to be precise, I have always been interested in football. I played for my school teams and a local boys team Cookstown Youth FC until I was 15. I was the only girl which is funny looking back at it now. I remember when games used to start, the boys on the other teams would laugh at the fact there was a girl on the other team but as soon as the game kicked off they were then silenced by the fact I could actually play! At the age of 10, I also joined a local girls’ team, Mid Ulster Ladies, and I stayed with them until I made the move across to Everton in 2013. I was named the first ever winner of the Northern Ireland Women’s Football Association Premier League Player of the year at the age of 15 and in 2012 I was honoured with the same award.

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At the age of 11, I remember going along to my first set of trials for the under 13 Northern Ireland squad and how happy I was that I got in. From there on, I went through the system representing all age groups, captaining both the under 17 and under 19 squads. Aged 15, I got my first call up to the senior side and 36 caps later I am still very much involved. This is by far my proudest achievement. As a child, this is why I started playing football in the hope that one day I would play for my country.

Football has enabled me to see so much off the world and I am so thankful for the opportunities it provides me with. I have been fortunate to travel to over 18 countries playing against teams such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and South Africa.

So, let’s move to University. Most people always ask me how do I have time for all of this, and that is a really good question. Throughout the years, I’ve had lots of practice when it comes to managing my time effectively. I remember when I was doing my A levels and I had signed for Everton, I would fly over to Liverpool on a Thursday, train and play a match and then come Monday morning I would fly home and go to school. Standard week really for me!  Now, living in Ormskirk I can easily access Finch Farm for the Everton training sessions, I do however still fly home for the Northern Ireland games, as you can see from my video diary:

I thoroughly enjoy the degree I am studying towards, I have met some of the most incredible people who will be friends for life. I am truly having the time of my life, enjoying every moment while also working towards a quality degree.”

You can check out some of Simone’s skills at

Millie’s going for gold and setting her sights on Rio 2016

It’s a new academic year which means we have a fresh batch of scholars here at Edge Hill University and our big awards evening is fast approaching – I can’t wait! It has been great meeting so many of the new scholars at enrolment and Freshers week, so I thought it was about time that I started introducing them to you all!

Firstly, meet Millie Forrest. Millie has just started studying BSc (Hons) Coach Education. She was awarded the Sports Scholarship for Prospective Students at Gold level. I’ll let Millie tell you the rest!

My name is Millie Forrest and I am a disabled athlete who competes in the shot put and discus. In 2012, I was classified as an F37 thrower (F37 means athletes who have Cerebral Palsy). I started competing in 2012 for Wigan Harriers at lots of different competitions all around the country. I am currently ranked 2nd in the UK at both discus and shot put in my classification.

At the start of 2014, I was selected to be a part of the British Athletics Parallel Success Academy which is designed to help potential athletes reach the top and become Paralympic athletes by giving them extra training. Then, a few months later, I received a letter from British Athletics saying that I had been selected to represent Team GB at the IWAS World Junior Games in August. The games were at Stoke Mandeville, which was also the venue for the very first Paralympics event in 1948. This experience was so surreal and amazing. Proudly wearing the GB vest was such an honour and such a great feeling. The GB team consisted of athletes who had competed at the Commonwealth Games the week before and also athletes who had competed at the London 2012 Paralympics too. So, for me to be in the same team as them was overwhelming.

I came away from the Games with a gold medal in the shot put and a silver medal in the discus. It was my first international competition so I never expected a medal at all, I was just going to enjoy the experience and see where that would take me. However, to come home with two medals was just mind-blowing; I was so happy.

I was also selected to compete for the North West at the Sainsbury’s School Games which were held in Manchester in September. This was another great competition to be a part – not only did I win gold at the School Games but I also got a massive personal best in the shot put too. As well as participating in the competition, I got to take part in the opening ceremony and I met some incredible athletes such as Katrina Johnson-Thompson (heptathlon), Ellie Simmonds (paralympic swimmer) and Sam Ruddock (London 2012 Paralympian) who spoke to the athletes about their careers and what they did to get where they are today. So, overall 2014 has been a great year for me!

My ultimate ambition would be to get selected to represent Team GB at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. In the mean time, the opportunity to attend some more international events would be so good and competing around the world would be incredible too. I am training really hard at the moment. I train six times a week doing various different training sessions such as circuit training, weight training, throwing drills etc. I am determined to get to the Paralympics one day and I am fully focused on achieving my goal. I have never let my disability stop me from doing what I love I have just got on with my life like anybody else would.”

The video below features Millie being interviewed at the World Junior Games:

No rest but plenty of success for rugby scholar Ciaran

Throughout the year, one of our Sports Scholars, Ciaran Keane, has kept us updated about his sporting achievements. All I can say is wow, what fantastic opportunities he has enjoyed (and I am not at all jealous of the places he has visited!).

Ciaran was awarded a Sports Scholarship for Current Students in 2013 for his achievements in rugby union. Ciaran has just completed his second year of LLB (Hons) Law. You can read about Ciaran’s successful year as a scholar below.

“It is only now after a very busy year, that I get the opportunity to reflect on what I have achieved and experienced throughout this past year: playing in the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers and the European Sevens’ games for Luxembourg Rugby’s National team as well as playing for Edge Hill’s University team. I have played in some extraordinary places and climates but I have also played in the freezing cold, wet and strong winds (with this mainly being the climate for games which took place in the UK!).  Having said that it is at these University games that the most fun was had with some great people!

The Edge Hill rugby team came second in our league; a very respectable achievement having just been promoted.  In the World Cup Qualifiers, we (Luxembourg) competed well but were eventually beaten by Israel. We did however win our group, which means we have been promoted into a higher level of European rugby with the likes of Austria in our upcoming season. I was also selected as Young Player of the Year in January!

Having just finished my second year exams, I went straight to the Rugby Sevens in June where I played in a small competition in Cologne to ensure I was selected for the national team in a larger European tournament three weeks later in Prague. I was selected and was also the youngest player on the squad, a little daunting to say the least but I’m quite used to being tested like that by now. We played five games against different countries including Norway and Iceland and came third overall in the whole tournament – a great achievement. 

Following our Sevens’ games I was given a couple of weeks off, however this was short lived as I’m now preparing for a European U20s tournament in August before heading back to Edge Hill and starting what is considered pre-season for University – however, it most definitely doesn’t feel like it to me! I think my season is neverending!”

Daniel bowls over our Scholarship Selection Panel

A recent winner of one of our Excellence Scholarships for Prospective Students, Daniel Hamm dropped into the office the other day to update us on his progress and, wow, what a great year he has had!

Daniel plays cricket for Tranmere Victoria CC, Cheshire County CC and England PD team and was awarded a Sports Scholarship in September 2013. He has now just completed Year 1 of our BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport degree.

England Squad

This is what Daniel had to say about cricket and his first year as an Edge Hill University scholar.

“Over the past 12 months I have been fortunate enough to remain within the England PD Squad, with one of my highlights being selected to travel to Dubai to play Pakistan. The tour lasted two weeks and consisted of seven games (a warm up match, 3 T20’s and 3 ODI’s), I played in the warm up match and 2 T20 matches.

My role in the squad is a bowler and I am one of the few young spin bowlers with the team.  Although we did not come home victorious, I personally had a great time – not only did I get to play but we got to see a lot of the sights in Dubai and watch Lancashire CCC play – what an experience! I also learnt a lot about cultural differences, myself and my team mates. The experiences I went through can only help me become a better player and person as I go into my second year at Edge Hill in September.

Overall, I take great pride in how my first year at Edge Hill has gone and how well I have settled into things. I have thoroughly enjoyed the year, meeting new people, making new friends, attending seminars and lectures. I am happy with my results and how they are progressing as well as how well my cricket has been developing, I hope they both continue to go well during my next two years at Edge Hill.”