My first 6 months as a SDA!

It’s scary to think that I am now writing this 6 months into my placement. Back in May 2015, I applied for a new role that had been introduced into the new structure at MMU Sport. Luckily I got the job and Monday 3rd August was my first day in post. 


The first week involved getting to know the MMU Sport team, many meetings were held and there was a lot for me to take in. I was thrown into the deep end straight away as the MMU Staff Workplace games were held that week. This consisted of three team sports over three days. On one of the days, we hosted a five-a-side football tournament at the Platt lane facilities, and I was asked to referee. I was dreadful. I made some outrageous decisions and got some stick, but it’s all good fun. For the next two tournaments, I was asked to format the layout, set rules and deliver the event on the day.

The next few weeks seemed to be a blur. A lot of planning was involved in preparation for Welcome Week and Freshers. It was a crucial period for us to promote sport as much as possible! A lot of handing out flyers, speaking to students and manning promotional stalls occurred that week!

At the end of September, our recreational programme began. Active Campus (AC) is a free, non-committal programme of recreational activity. There are over 40 free sessions each week across our Manchester and Cheshire campus’s. Each activity is delivered by one of our student activators to ensure all sessions run smoothly. A large part of my job is monitoring and evaluation the data from our recreational programmes. In 2013, the university was funded £239,000 from Sport England to help increase sport participation. The funding allows us to purchase equipment, book facilities, hire staff (Activators) and market our Active Campus programme. In return, Sport England set participation targets for us to reach in order to show we are using the funding effectively. Therefore, the majority of my role is working on Microsoft Excel, inputting data and analysing which sessions are doing well and which are not. At the beginning of each AC session, our Activators scan student ID cards, we then upload the scanned data into our master participation spreadsheet.

Over the next couple of months, I helped to deliver inductions for courses at Sugden Sports Centre. I have also manned stalls on open days and I thoroughly enjoy these as it allows me to inform people about what we offer at the University.

Another aspect to the role I have enjoyed is marketing. Working alongside our marketing officer, has allowed me to learn a lot about what it entails. For example, formulating marketing communication plans and liaising with Graphics to create some collateral for our promotional stalls. I also have my own twitter account (@MMUSportSDA), which I regularly tweet from – usually about things around sport development.

As part of my personal development plan I was asked to come up with a marketing campaign, I called it “Tom Tries”. The concept is for me to ‘try’ selected recreational activities. Using a GoPro, I film the session which results in video coverage of the session from my perspective. I then use the footage to create a short, 2 minute video on iMovie. Along with the video, I write a brief blog summarising the session. My most recent Dodgeball blog post had over 200 reads! I expect around 190 of them were my Mum… A downside to Tom Tries is that it makes me realise how bad I am at most of the sports on our Active Campus programme. It’s fine though, it’s all recreational.

Take a look at a few!

Tom Tries: Badminton

Tom Tries: Dodgeball

Tom Tries: Basketball


Towards the end of the term, I was given the job of organising our recreational tournament programme. This required me to book facilities, liaise with Activators and market the programme. We successfully had over 150 participants! The most challenging part of the planning was obtaining trophies and medals. We were sent some horrendous trophies! I had a go at the squash tournament after work on a Tuesday, and I somehow came 3rd! Overall I found it a terrific experience and I am currently in the process of developing the term 2 AC tournament programme. This time, we are working with some Sport Management students and helping them deliver a Futsal and UV Dodgeball event.

I won’t talk much about my Movember attempt, but here’s a photo.


In December, I helped out with the end of term 1 review. This involved using the data received from Project Management Information (PMI) to formulate pie charts and publish a presentation showing the types of students/staff who are getting involved in Active Campus. This is a very interesting part of the job as I’ve always been a bit of a data cruncher. I am looking forward to doing the same at the end of term 2 in March!

I was elected by my boss to organise the MMU Sport Christmas party. That was particularly stressful and thought it a feat that deserved to be featured on my LinkedIn profile. However, it was a great night and was good to have a drink and a laugh outside of work. Moreover, I created “A question of MMU Sport” game show which was very successful. Our mystery guest was our very own Sport Volunteering officer, Adam Howard, dressed as his döppelganger Rebecca Adlington.


In a bid to lose the Christmas chubs, I’ve started cycling to work, well, occasionally when I can be bothered to brave the arctic weather. I’m looking forward to spring and the summer mornings as I detest sitting in traffic! A benefit of my role is that I constantly have sport to play. After work, on Mondays and Wednesday, I’ve started to play five-a-side football with staff from MMU; its good fun!

From January, I took charge of the @MMUSport twitter account where I tweet coverage from BUCS (British, Universities, Colleges and Schools) Wednesdays. Every Tuesday, I send out a BUCS preview, highlighting some matches to look out for the following day.  I have enjoyed this as it is not only increasing my experience in social media marketing and developing a blog, but also gets me out the office and watching some sport! I have been fortunate enough to have been offered a part time role with similar responsibilities next year alongside my studies. I am looking forward to this!

On Thursdays, I now volunteer at a local school as part of the FA Community hub programme. The MFA and MMU Sport have partnered to deliver after school sessions for school children in the hope to increase football participation in the East Manchester Area. This is great as it allows me to obtain an FA level 1 qualification as well!

In summary, the first six months of my placement have been incredible; looking back, I’ve achieved so much! This short blog highlights the main work I have done, but I could easily write pages more! I have been able to get experience in a lot of aspects of the job, from marketing to event planning, which will be a great addition to my CV. I believe my confidence has grown massively as well. A few years ago, if I was told to deliver a football session to over 30 students I would have run away!

I have just over 5 months left in my post, and I am highly motivated to maximise this period and get as much experience as I can. Head over to @MMUSportSDA to see what I’m doing!






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