Studying at Northern Regional College can open up all kinds of different career opportunities for people with the right skills, qualifications and motivation and, as Marty McLaughlin from Portglenone found out, it’s never too late to change direction.
Marty (27) qualified as a joiner when he left school but after a few years decided to try something completely different. He enrolled for Level 2 Diploma in Sport at the College’s Coleraine campus and then progressed to complete the Level 3 Diploma in Sport at the College’s Magherafelt GAA Academy. With these qualifications under his belt, he went back to Coleraine and did a Foundation degree in Sports, Exercise and Fitness.
Marty in now in the final year of a Coaching degree at Ulster University, Jordanstown, fitting his study around a part-time job as performance analyst with County Derry GAA Board and coaching commitments with local clubs.
Damian McGarry, Course Director of the Foundation Degree for Sport, Exercise and Fitness at the College’s Coleraine campus explains that Marty landed his dream job with the Derry GAA as a result of a ten week Sector Specific Project (SSP) work placement he completed as part of his Foundation degree.
“Funding for the Coach Aid SSP came via the Connected3 programme, an initiative managed by Colleges NI and funded by the Department of the Economy, which is designed to support collaborative working between colleges, universities, local businesses and organisations.”
He says the Coach Aid SSP has reaped multiple rewards for everyone involved.
“Connected funding allowed us to offer sports science support to local clubs and organisations which wouldn’t normally have had access to the resources and expertise available in the College.
“The collaborative partnership with Derry GAA was our biggest project to date but we also have worked with other sporting organisations. The County Board has since purchased its own equipment for analysing players’ performance but until they did, the College was able to step in and provide some very valuable technical support. ”
He continues: “Marty is one of our real success stories. He progressed from studying at Level 2 right through to doing a degree and he is now working as a performance analyst with the County Board, all as a result of contacts made during his Foundation degree.
Marty says that going back to College was his best decision ever as it helped get him into a line of work that he really enjoys.
“Sport performance analysis is all about observing and recording events and actions during competition and training environments.
Marty continues: “This information gathered can give managers and coaches a valuable insight into how their players are performing at different stages of a game and make informed tactical changes.
“Performance analysis is a rapidly growing area of sport science and there are great new career opportunities are opening up. If I hadn’t gone back to College, I would never have never have landed a dream job - getting paid to watch football!”