“You don’t feel like a small person that’s part of a massive institution, you’re involved in the community. You get to know friends and lecturers very quickly."
Richard Sackey-Addo joined Bedfordshire through Clearing in 2011. Five years on, Richard has an undergraduate degree and a Master’s, and he’s now an Assistant Research Officer at the International Tennis Federation, the sport’s global governing body.
His role includes increasing international tennis participation, improving the quality of coach education globally and being responsible for ‘Tennis iCoach’ – a huge online library of resources for players, coaches, parents and sports science practitioners.
Throughout school, Richard always wanted to go to university, but he had to keep an open mind when his A level results were not what he had expected.
“My original choices were physiotherapy courses, but as I was looking through the vacancy list on the Clearing website all the physiotherapy courses were full,” he said.
“As I studied Biology and P.E at A Level, I started looking at Sports Science courses as the requirements were similar to physiotherapy.
“I came across the Sport and Exercise Science BSc. I noticed from the course description and the university website that there was the opportunity to build experience in the sports industry and to get involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities, both of which were important to me.”
“I spoke to a really helpful member of the admissions team over the phone. That conversation confirmed that the content of the course and how it was taught was exactly what I was looking for, so I applied.”
Alongside his undergraduate studies Richard was a local tennis coach and volunteered as part of the university’s ‘Get into Sport’ scheme. As a result, he was awarded the Gold Sport Coach Scholarship, which meant the university paid for his Level 2 tennis coaching qualification.
This meant he was able to coach more and build up considerable industry experience to compliment his academic studies.
“The tennis industry is very competitive,” says Richard.
“To work in high performance sport with professional athletes, you really need experience and Bedfordshire helped me gain this experience.”
In his third year as an undergraduate, Richard was a University Tennis Ambassador. His role involved increasing tennis participation among both staff and students at the university. The following year, during his Master’s, he took the role of Tennis Co-ordinator, which included pushing participation in the local area as well as at the university.
“I met with University Sport Directors, local tennis clubs and the national governing body’s regional office because of these roles,” says Richard.
“I was also able to represent the university at conferences, which gave me further opportunities to meet people and keep up to date on the latest sector knowledge.”
By exploring all areas of the Sports Science course, Richard was able to choose which area he wanted to specialise in and, despite having other opportunities, he decided that Bedfordshire was where he wanted to continue his studies.
“Sports Science is such a broad field, and the course helped guide me to my specialist area and my Master’s in Sports Performance.
“I could have studied a Master’s anywhere with the degree that I was awarded, but I wanted to continue developing tennis at Bedfordshire so I stayed.
“The relationship I had with staff also played a big part in my decision to stay. They really supported me and allowed me to develop the tennis coordinator role. They let me do what I thought would work.”
Now based in Valencia with the odd fleeting visit back to his family home in Croydon, Richard reflects warmly on his time at the University of Bedfordshire.
“You don’t feel like a small person that’s part of a massive institution, you’re involved in the community. You get to know friends and lecturers very quickly.
“The staff do all they can to support you in your career ambitions. The facilities were brilliant, and the quality of the lecturers was really high.”