Cultural bridges built through football at the University of Northampton

Having won their league two years running the Bahraini team were treated to a week-long trip to the UK organised by UON’s Academic Partnership Office, which included a mix of cultural experiences and exposure to the hi-tech testing equipment and the latest training techniques available at the University of Northampton (UON).

With the help of his students, Luke Callis, Applied Sports Scientist at UON and former English Premier League Fitness Coach, began the Gulf Team’s week with a battery of endurance and strength tests in the University’s Sports Laboratories.

He said: “As a University we want to do more of this stuff, having international groups like this for training camps. It gives our students here the opportunity to develop their practical skills and take what they’ve learned in a classroom and apply it in a dynamic and real-world way.

"Then also, I think it helps build the University’s international reputation, if we can have elite level sports teams coming here from abroad, staying on campus, using the facilities and accessing the expertise we can provide, I think it’s really positive."

The Gulf Team were also taken on tours of London, visited the Bahrain Embassy, and played friendly matches against the Northampton Town FC FEP under 21s and Moulton College.

Dan Flint, Head of Football at Moulton College, said: “I think it’s really important to build those bridges and start to understand different cultures and different ways of life.

"Something like this is a really good learning experience, the boys have definitely learned how things are done a little bit differently in other areas of the world."

Dr Hesham El Marsafawy, Gulf University’s Vice President for Student Affairs, said his University currently offers two Northampton degrees, with two more on the way.

He added: “It’s been a successful collaboration over more than six years and we are adding more areas of collaboration, not just the franchise programme, but also in research and sustainability.

"One of the areas we’re working on together is student competencies, not just in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom.

"So as much as this is a reward, for what is the best University football team in Bahrain, in addition to having training, numerous workshops and friendly football matches, they are also developing a range of competencies: self-motivation, confidence, being with others, teamwork, time management, being exposed to other cultures and languages, that’s the goal of this visit."

Bill Toyer, UON’s Academic Partnership Manager said: “Although we have been working with Gulf University for a number of years now, we are constantly looking for ways to broaden the relationship.

"Not only has this been a chance for the Gulf University team to tap into some of the technology and expertise we have within the Sports Science team at the University, but they also got to exposure to the University campus experience different styles of football through the two matches they have played whilst here."

To find out more, visit the University’s Sport Sciences page, or email to find out more about partnerships with the University of Northampton.

Watch a video presentation of this report on Youtube.