During their West Ham United kit collection at the London Stadium, students from the University and West Ham United Foundation’s sports coaching and performance degree were visited by newly appointed West Ham United interim academy manager Kenny Brown for a guest lecture on employability in the sports sector.
In his first day in his new role, Brown joined the students for a two-hour session on career pathways into coaching. The activity formed part of an ongoing partnership the Foundation holds with the Academy as part of the Foundation’s higher education work.
It’s been a really pleasant first day," Brown said. "I woke up to some really nice messages from staff members and Ricky Martin wishing me all the best. It’s been great to come down here to the Stadium and meet the students. There are some really good people delivering on this course. I really liked the dynamic of the session. I enjoyed the fact it was collaborative, going back and forth with the students. The discussions were really in depth and weren’t just about football and the first team, they were interested in what West Ham looks for in their staff."
As part of the afternoon activity, students headed out to the corporate terraces to collect their new West Ham United Foundation kits and have their headshots taken with the Billy Bonds stand as a backdrop. After suiting up in their new clothing, the students headed back inside and heard from their lecturers about their own pathways into academy coaching and lecturing – representing the diversity of roles, journeys and perspectives.
"The session could not have gone any better," said Alfie Crickmar who delivers on the course as well as coaching the women’s U15s and assisting the men’s U21s. "To have Kenny take the time to come meet the students and answer questions on his first day in post is an amazing opportunity for our undergraduates."
Students then participated in a Q&A with Brown. Some of the topics the undergraduates were eager to learn more about was relationship building in the coaching sector and the importance of getting out of your comfort zone.
"There's a lot of things students can take away from today's session," added Brown. "The biggest thing is to throw yourself into everything, to not be afraid of asking questions and getting into uncomfortable positions.
"They’ve got three years to make the most of everything this degree has to offer. If someone asks you if you want to do something, say yes, because the opportunities here are very unique. Those experiences will eventually forge out into the career that they want to pursue."
Reflecting on the session, Brown was keen to express the approach of West Ham and how many opportunities there are as they progress on their pathway.
"I believe it’s really important for them to know, if they want to have an opportunity to work at West Ham or our Academy, to know what that looks like," he told whufc.com. "We're very transparent. Like with every role, we always look to hire from within first, whether that's someone from the Foundation or from a college programme. If we see potential and that drive to improve, then we’ll look to recruit them first before exploring external options."
Read more about the Foundation’s Sports Coaching and Performance degree.