#InsideTheIndustry – School Sport

Next up in our #InsideTheIndustry series we caught up with Health & Wellbeing teacher and junior football extraordinaire Mr Kowbel.

With schools closed or partially closed for a number of months over the last year, teachers have had to be creative in order to make sure their students are being challenged as well as possible when doing school work at home.

1. How has lockdown affected the way you’ve been able to teach over the last 12 months?

It’s been a real challenge to provide anything like the ‘normal’ physical PE experience as guidelines around changing facilities, use of equipment and social distancing has hit us hard.

We’ve not been able to follow Sport Scotland guidelines and have had to wait on guidance from Education Scotland which has led to frustration from learners and parents.

Our approach has very much been about focusing on the cognitive skills and physical qualities such as decision making, teamwork and communication.

The online home learning approach has been new for all of us and undoubtedly tough for learners but it has presented some positive aspects which we can incorporate into our practice in post Covid times.


2. As a PE teacher you’re used to being active throughout the year, how have you coped with being unable to get out of the playing fields/in the sports hall for large parts of the last year?

We’ve been extremely lucky with favourable weather and the response our learners have given to the challenges…there’s been very few moans and groans and they’ve embraced the situation!

We’ve kept activity games based and as I say the approach has been more about being active than skills development.

We utilised the short windows in between lockdowns to assess learners practical performance in the senior phase so have been really fortunate in that sense but there’s no getting away from the fact that experiential learning has been limited.

3. How difficult is it to run a PE lesson via Microsoft Teams?

Our Dance classes have actually been really successful! The staff and learners have worked so well together to keep learning on track. PE has been more problematic and we’ve tried to keep learners engaged with fitness advice and challenges with supporting mental well being the priority for this.  

The major challenge has been the diverse range of access to IT and quality of internet provision…despite the best efforts of schools and other agencies many learners have found accessing learning a significant struggle.

4. Have you and your colleagues had to be creative in the ways to get your students active during home learning?

Absolutely, as I say Dance has worked well but we’ve tried to keep things fun and positive. When the snow came we set challenges around this and it was good to see some of the learners out sledging when I took my own children to the golf course hills!

5. With school and club football suspended for long periods, how much have you missed being able to get out on the training pitch and matchdays in school/junior football this year?

It’s left a significant void!! The more relaxed environment is a huge part of building relationships beyond the classroom and in my view extra curricular opportunities are a fundamental part of school building a positive ethos and helping learners to transition from primary school, make new friends and build school pride.

Being unable to organise trips and tours is also disappointing as over the years the benefits and experiences they offer to learners is life shaping and life changing. Hopefully light is beginning to shine at the end of this long tunnel!

#InsideTheIndustry – Sports Management

Next up in our #InsideTheIndustry mini-series is a look into the world of sports management with Michael from Consilium Sports Group.

Based in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh, Michael’s primary responsibilities lie within the Football Operations team working with players and personalities across the football world.

Like many sections of the sports industry over the last 12 months, sports management has been forced to adapt to a new way of working. With stadiums empty and meetings taking place online instead of in person, Michael has had to be flexible in his approach to work.

How have the last 12 months affected your working life?

I’ve been in a fortunate position that I actually got a new job during the pandemic, joining Consilium Sports Group in November. It’s been a strange start getting to grips with all that comes with a new job mostly virtually, but I’m thankful for being one of the luckier people during these times.

With so much uncertainty in the football world, has it been a challenging time to work in professional football?

Yes, it has but football has been one of the more privileged industries in terms of being able to return and continue in some form during the pandemic. A lot of clubs had to trim costs to survive and many of the players and staff felt that directly with wage cuts. The fans being unable to attend also hits income generation and in turn results in a knock on effect throughout the industry.

Whilst the top end of football has continued without much of a blip, the lower leagues and women’s game in Scotland were postponed for a prolonged period recently. We have a number of players who were affected by this including a strain on the players mental and physical wellbeing. There are a lot of knock on effects as mentioned, such as some players may have needed to showcase themselves this season for a new contract or a move but are now facing an uncertain future due to them not playing.

What have you been doing to manage working from home – has it been difficult to adapt?

It hasn’t been easy and I am sure everyone up and down the country has felt the same. I live in a flat with my girlfriend and have both been working from the same table in the living room, so that can certainly be a challenge.

I picked up a second hand bike back in April and found a lot of joy just getting out on that for an hour or heading out for a run, if the dodgy knee allows. I like to try get out for a lunch break or straight after work to break up the day a little bit, so I don’t find myself just moving from bed to table to sofa to bed. I also found it helped when we moved the table to a different place in the living room every 2 weeks or so, just to give it a different outlook. Although, sat next to the window you can end up a little distracted being neighbourhood watch!

With transfers affected by Covid, has the role of a football agency changed over the last year?

Covid has certainly slowed the transfer market down and money, especially in Scotland, is being spent a bit more carefully. I would say our role is still similar to before as we aim to represent the client in the best way we can.

We are there to provide support, advice and mentoring which does include contracts and transfers but we also pride ourselves on being more than that. We have increased our concierge support services including financial advisory, helped to develop long term plans with our athletes including after sport opportunities and also had our staff complete mental health wellbeing courses to be equipped in ways that may be of help to our talent, especially during these times.

We have also had to think of a new way to communicate with our talent and have started recording a talking newsletter that is distributed out to everyone as a way to keep everyone up to date and feel included.

It’s important to us that we are there for every part of our talent’s journey and not just when the contract renewal or transfer is being discussed. The pandemic has shown this to be even more important and the health and wellbeing of our talent is our number one priority.

With no fans at matches and a much tighter number of staff allowed in the stadiums – has it been difficult to miss out on attending games on a Saturday?

I have really missed going to the football. From a work perspective, we would usually be out watching our talent playing and it’s also a good time to catch up with them after a match to see how they are doing both professionally and personally. It also makes recruitment slightly more difficult due to being unable to watch any new talent in person.

From a personal point of view, getting along to games was also a time to see friends and family so that has been a big miss from a social aspect. Whilst there is an abundance of games on the TV at the moment, nothing beats a live stadium atmosphere.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, what are you most looking forward to in your work life?

Getting back to some form of normality will be great. I never thought I would miss an office environment as much as I have, but I have taken for granted the positives of the general day to day interaction and banter you get in an office.

I’m also really looking forward to just meeting everyone in person. Starting a new job and doing a lot of the introduction meetings over Zoom has been rather strange so it will be good to meet more of my colleagues and also the talent as most of them have only ever seen me in a square on a screen. The hardest part of that will probably be having to change out of my pyjama bottoms, but I am very much looking forward to it.

Consilium Sports Group is a Sports & Entertainment Management Agency based in Edinburgh. You can click here to visit their website.

#InsideTheIndustry – Sports Media

Next up in our #InsideTheIndustry series, which takes a look at the impacts of Covid-19 on various parts of the sports sector, we caught up with Lauren, Head of Content at Gulf Youth Sport.

Gulf Youth Sport is a wide-ranging media platform in the Middle East dedicated to all things youth sport, from PE programmes within schools to elite sports academies in the UAE and across the Gulf. Lauren is the brains behind many of the articles and features on GYS, keeping on top of everything newsworthy in the world of youth sport.

Lauren has been based in her homeland of Australia for most of the pandemic due to travel-related restrictions, meaning she has been forced to keep up to date remotely across a number of timezones! She very kindly took time out of her busy schedule to let us know how Covid has affected her work…

How have the last 12 months affected Gulf Youth Sport and its activities?

The temporary halt of all competition and training changed the way we covered sport in the Middle East. Instead of being on the ground at events, the GYS platform focused on publicising positive sporting stories and finding the committed young athletes and teachers who were continuing to keep up their fitness despite the circumstances.

We covered virtual tournaments, ran campaigns to support sports academies and presented daily workouts to help the community keep active. But the highlight has been covering the reopening of sporting academies and return to PE in schools across recent months.

With so much uncertainty in the sports world, has it been a challenging time to work in sports media?

Initially the thought of no competitive sport to cover for an extended period caused uncertainty. However, there are always times when sports news is slower including over the Christmas break or when the football season ends and you need to find creative ways to develop content.

The past year has shown how adaptable the industry can be given the sports sections of newspapers, magazines and websites have continually been updated despite the decrease in sport. In saying that, nothing beats the thrill of broadcasting from a live match or writing about a competitive league!

What have you been doing to manage working from home – has it been difficult to adapt to online meetings and media sessions?

It’s hard to even remember a time when online meetings and interviews weren’t just normal practice so I think I’ve become quite accustomed to working this way.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to chat to some people that are normally hard to catch because they’re busy doing so many things during normal times. To manage working from home, I’ve tried to replicate the office as best I can and work in a quiet space to help me focus.

With schools and academies all over the Middle East looking for creative ways to keep their players active, how important has it been for GYS to give them a platform over the last year?

It has potentially been the most important time at GYS to really showcase schools and academies that had their operations shut down. We thought it was vital to show academies were still present and were ready to reopen with all the necessary precautions when given the all clear.

We did this most prominently through our Support Your Sports Academy campaign which publicised academies struggles and allowed parents and young athletes to show their support.

How important is it to have a community within GYS which allow parents, coaches and players to share best practice?

The GYS community has certainly been a haven of positivity throughout this time, showing support and encouragement for all the efforts teachers, coaches and academies have been putting in to keep kids active.

It’s been a great forum for leaders of schools and sporting organisations to demonstrate ways they are adapting to new rules allowing them to operate safely and students have been able to see opportunities to become involved in virtual challenges.

GYS is home to large numbers of young aspiring media people, how pleased are you that the GYS media programme has continued to allow young people to gain experience in sports media in such difficult circumstances?

Having launched the GYS Sports Media Course during tough lockdowns last year it’s been fantastic to have an avenue where students can still connect with sport while not being able to play. Students have shown incredible skill covering sport, as well as initiative to find creative ways to complete the course, even when there’s been no live sport to attend.

Often this has meant siblings and parents stepping in to be the focus of videos, pictures and articles! As we continue to offer the course, I’m pleased that more students will have the opportunity to cover sport, particularly given they’ll be back competing or analysing sport from the sidelines in no time. 

Gulf Youth Sport is an online platform dedicated to raising the profile of youth sport in the Middle East. GYS aim to celebrate rising stars and encourage increased participation and enjoyment levels in sport and exercise.

You can keep up to date with Gulf Youth Sport by visiting their website here.

#InsideTheIndustry – Sports Events & Tourism

The last year has been strange for us all. Schools have been closed, sports events postponed and played behind closed doors, travel halted and life as we know it changed significantly.

The sports industry, like many others across a wide ranging array of sectors, has been impacted hugely by Covid-19. Over the course of a mini-series of #InsideTheIndustry articles we aim to take a look at how the day to day routines of working within the world of sport have been affected in the last 12 months.

Kicking us off is Rory, Operations & Customer Journey Executive at The Twedex Group based in Edinburgh. Rory’s day to day includes planning and managing sports tours and events in the UK and Europe, with schools and sports clubs leaning on his expertise to plan enjoyable and rewarding sporting experience for their youngsters.

How have the last 12 months affected the sports events industry in general?

The pandemic has had a monumental impact on the sports events industry, with it coming to a complete standstill in March last year. Working directly within the industry we remained hopeful of running our events in the late summer of 2020 and none of us would have predicted that we were going to still be in the same position almost a year down the line.

Particularly for young children who have had an extremely disruptive time in terms of education, the return of domestic grassroots sport last summer was a real boost for kids mental and physical wellbeing and I can imagine it has been tough for them to have had this taken away from them a few months later.

Fingers crossed grassroots sport can come back alongside education, as young people are crying out for a bit of structure and normality of day-to-day life.

Professional/elite sport has been given some flexibility as opposed to other industries since summer last year, which I feel has been important for many people (me included) to help distance yourself from the issues around the globe even though you are restricted to your own sofa.

Besides the obvious exclusion of supporters in stadiums, the top European football leagues, golf, tennis etc have been relatively unaffected financially with the majority of revenue being generated through TV and sponsorship deals. However, the further you are from the top of these respective sports, the more impact the pandemic has had.

Scottish football clubs in the SPFL are struggling to make ends meet until supporters are allowed back into stadiums so fingers crossed the vaccine rollout continues to excel and supporters can get back into stadiums asap at all levels for financial but also atmospheric and social reasons.

With so much uncertainty in the sports world, has it been a challenging time to work in sports events?

Personally, it has been a difficult period with so much uncertainty in terms of a timeline of when things will return to normal. It was extremely frustrating back in March when everything came to a halt as all the work that had gone into specific events went to waste.

It is natural to fear the worst and consider alternative career paths, but I feel that I’m fortunate to work within a close-knit team where we have worked through the challenges as a group and we believe that the hunger for schools and clubs to get back playing sport will help get us back on track as a business.

What have you been doing to manage working from home – has it been difficult to adapt to online meetings etc?

It’s not been too difficult to adapt as we have needed to work remotely prior to the pandemic. Saying that, I am very much looking forward to getting back into the office for general social interaction with colleagues on a day-to-day basis as opposed to an hour’s chat on Zoom once a week.

It has been difficult to measure productivity with there being a lot less work to do, although I do believe that a majority office-based role with flexibility to work from home is the way forward and I think we will see a major shift towards flexible working across all industries when the dust finally settles.

How important is it to give players and coaches something to look forward to when things return to normality?

It has been a hugely disruptive 12 months educationally. Grassroots sport offers a massive release for young people, so the sooner they can get back playing safely the better.

Teams have endured so much disappointment on several occasions with tours and tournaments taken away from them, which is why I have everything crossed that we will be able to provide some positivity at the end of this extremely frustrating period by delivering our tours and events.

Tours and tournaments will probably look and feel quite different when they return later this year – how important is it to ensure everything is done to make them as safe and enjoyable as possible?

If we are able to ensure that tours and events are conducted in as safe a manner as possible I believe the enjoyment will come naturally for everyone involved. Although these are likely to be only domestic for the rest of the year, to be able to return to a setting with teammates, friends and family after such a difficult period will be such a relief as everyone will be able to see that we are slowly returning to normal life.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, what are you most looking forward to in your work life?

I am looking forward to delivering successful events and tours as to play a part in providing something positive for young people is something I will take great satisfaction in. On a personal note I am very much looking forward to getting back into a structured lifestyle, returning to the office full time and working with new and existing schools and sports teams.

The Twedex Group comprises several unique companies, each specialising in a different area of the sports industry. With offices in the UK, Spain, and the UAE, our products and services are varied but our approach remains consistent – passion, honesty, reliability and unfaltering quality in everything we do.

For more information please send us an email by clicking here.