Insight and DCU team up to boost Premier League coaches

19 Sep 2023

From left: DCU’s Dr Jamie Taylor, Dr Stephen Behan, Dr Áine MacNamara and Premier League coach development manager Danny Newcombe. Image: Insight SFI Research Centre

The SFI research centre will work with DCU to develop coaching practices at the highest levels of UK football and uncover new findings around sports coaching.

Irish researchers have announced a new partnership with the UK’s Premier League to advance research into academy coach development.

Insight, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Data Analytics and the Dublin City University (DCU) School of Health and Human Performance will work together on the project to develop coaching practices at the highest levels.

The two organisations already have a model in this field, which they are applying in projects with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Ireland and Premiership Rugby in the UK.

The focus of the project is to build a “data-driven practice and policy approach” to areas such as coach and talent development, funding allocation, participation and supporting elite athletes, according to Insight’s Dr Stephen Behan.

Dr Jamie Taylor of DCU said an “embedded researcher” will work in Premier League academies to make “future practice” recommendations.

“In turn, we will analyse data and research findings to develop an evidence base for informed practice in sports coaching,” Taylor said. “As well as impacting directly on coaching quality within the Premier League, the project will deliver research findings to key football stakeholders and disseminate knowledge through academic publications and conferences.”

Sean Reed, head of coaching sport at the Premier League, said one focus is to ensure that the development is “tailored” to the individual needs of coaches and that it is “relevant to their role and the environment they work in”.

“To ensure that we are developing coaching expertise in the professional game, it is essential that we have a greater understanding for the demands of the game and the needs of the players,” Reed said.

Dr Áine MacNamara, chair of the Professional Doctorate in Elite Performance at DCU, said the Premier League partnered with Irish researchers due to the “novel, consumable approach to elite sport research” they have.

“We provide a unique and sustained engagement with a philosophy of conducting research, for – rather than about – sport,” MacNamara said. “It’s an exciting collaboration.”

The publicly-funded Insight centre was established more than 10 years ago and is estimated to be worth €1.1bn to the country’s economy, according to a report released in June.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic