Kevin White, Sports Scientist Collingwood FC (Australian Rules)
Interview: Kevin White
Team: Collingwood FC
Position: Sports Scientist
What qualifications do you have? How did you become a Sports Scientist?
I did my graduate degree in Sport & Exercise Science at The University of Limerick. I am currently doing a post grad diploma in Sports Nutrition.
Did you work in professional or amateur sport in Ireland before your position as a Sports Scientist with Collingwood FC?
No, what happened was, as part of the requirement for my degree, I had to undertake a co-operative placement with a company that falls under the Sports Science umbrella. Collingwood, as a strategy to enhance their reputation in Ireland and increase their ties with the GAA, offered an international sports science scholarship to come and work with the club in Melbourne, Australia for an 8 month period. I then returned back home and completed my degree before getting accepted to undertake a Masters in Manchester Metropolitan University, in the area of exercise physiology and sports injuries. Mid way through the masters, I got a call from the director of sports science at Collingwood, David Buttifant, offering me a full time job, and so without hesitation I withdrew from the course and made the trip down under.
What does your role involve? What are your day to day / week to week responsibilities?
My work as the club’s sports scientist varies under a wide range of sports science disciplines that include strength & conditioning, biochemical analysis, GPS analysis, Rehab, assisting in conditioning programmes, monitoring training loads through GPS and heart rate analysis, nutritional/supplementation advice, literature reviews on some of the current and novel concepts within sports science, presenting game trend and physiological data to coaches.
Who does your role interact with?
I interact with the club doctors, physio’s, rehab co-ordinators, coaches and strength & conditioning specialists.
What skills are needed to be a Sports Scientist?
Numerous skills are needed such as being; team orientated, supporting the club’s programmes, being attentive to each individual player, being able to pick up on cues from players such as their mood/mental state, having a good eye for detail, presenting well, ability to dissect and analyse data and bringing a positive attitude towards group contribution.
Can the work you’ve learned with an Australian Rule Football Team be transcended across to sports such as GAA, football and rugby or what would the main differences be?
No doubt, there are obvious advantages within Australian Rules in that it is a fully professional sport whereas the football and soccer are not. However the systems in place out here I think have been well adopted back in Ireland especially in Rugby, where the dominance of Irish teams in the European championships over the past decade reflect the professionalism of the sports science and preparation of those teams. I think the attitude towards weightlifting in preparation in Irish team sports has finally been embraced to a great degree, for example the body shape and size of the Dublin footballers is that of elite athletes, which is due to work of their conditioning staff, strength coaches, mental preparation and good nutrition programmes.
What do you find satisfying/fulfilling about your role?
The most satisfying aspect of the job is that I am working in the area that I have a great passion for. No two days are the same, there are always challenges thrown at you, and there is an environment /culture at the club that pushes you to better yourself through learning from experienced co-workers to enhances your knowledge by sending you on professional development courses. I love the interaction with the players and coaches and the day to day dealings. The most rewarding part of the job is obviously reflected in the success of the team.
Why would you recommend a Sports Scientist as a career path?
Diversity. There is no other job in the world that you will be working under four or five disciplines at a practical level. The challenges provided in this career path means that there is no time for complacency or monotony. One thing is for sure is that you will never be bored!!