Jason Thomas’ unique placement with the Swedish U16 women’s team
UCFB Wembley BA (Hons) International Football Business student Jason Thomas recently secured a fantastic work experience opportunity through UCFB’s unrivalled network of industry connections; working at St George’s Park as Team Liaison Officer for Sweden’s U16s Women’s team for the UEFA U16s development tournament, which also featured the likes of England, France and Switzerland. Below, Jason describes the unique experience he gathered behind the scenes at the prestigious UEFA tournament, and how it has motivated him for his post-UCFB career.
As you would imagine, it was an honour to be selected recently to work at a major international football tournament. As Team Liaison Officer for the Swedish U16s squad, I was responsible for the day-to-day organisation and scheduling of the squad’s activities; I also acted as a liaison between the team and representatives at both St George’s Park and UEFA.
During my work experience I was lucky enough to work with Victoria Svensson, Head Coach of the Swedish U16 Women’s Team and Sweden’s all time most-capped player with 166 appearances. Victoria is viewed as a celebrity in Sweden and across women’s football, so it was a privilege to work with her.
Prior to my placement I used my initiative and read up on the football history of each international team in order to educate myself and help make a connection with the team players and their officials. On their arrival, I collected 31 people – 20 players and 11 staff; including the Head Coach, Team Manager and Kit Manager to name a few – from the Swedish FA.
Throughout the tournament I quickly learnt that Swedish Women’s Football is of an extremely high standard; one of the best teams in the world, and has been for a long time. After spending some time at St George’s Park during the tournament, I have gained a much higher appreciation of women’s football and the beautiful game in general as I witnessed some top quality play.
Day to day running was demanding. I didn’t expect working at St George’s Park to be so challenging, however it was definitely worth it. It was a fantastic experience to work at one of the premier football centres in the world and I loved every minute of it. The entire squad worked very hard throughout the tournament and it was a pleasure to have been part of their team for a short while. It wasn’t all work and no play, however, as I was able to arrange a trip into Derby for the team where we had a few hours in the city centre and at Westfield Shopping Centre, which was fun for us all.
The Swedish team were absolutely great with me and always made me feel part of the team. They were open, polite and very positive throughout the whole camp which made my job much easier. I also liaised with other teams while I was there and during my time with the different nations. I told them about my life as a UCFB student, showing them the virtual tour hosted on our website, which they were amazed by.
At the end of my placement, I was presented with my 1st cap for Sweden as a thank you gift. This badge is the same one that the Swedish players receive when they make their first international appearance. It really boosted my confidence and made me feel great as this special gift demonstrated that the team were grateful for everything I did.
I am extremely proud to have represented UCFB at St George’s Park and I was conscious of making a good and lasting impression so that future UCFB students will be invited back to gain some amazing experience like I have. I learned a great deal and enjoyed a small taste of what life could be like upon graduation from UCFB and into the world of employment in elite sport. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had and I can’t wait for more opportunities like this in the future through UCFB.