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University of Essex Secures Prestige Status

Thu 22nd Jul 2010 | Club & Country Competitions

Staff at the University of Essex, who operate at campuses in Colchester, Southend and Loughton, were jumping for joy recently when they were included on a new list of ten ‘Focus Universities’ who will work alongside the Football Development Team at British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) between 2010 and 2012.

Sports Development Officer, Laura Eddie, was amongst those welcoming the news after their application was accepted to join a targeted group of establishments which has been growing since 2008. The University submitted a football development plan as well as demonstrating what they wanted to achieve over the next two years in partnership with BUCS and The FA and they can now look forward to receiving a range of benefits

Laura commented: “We aim to develop new opportunities for students and the wider community and will build on the strong partnerships we already hold with the Essex County FA and BUCS to provide different pathways for anyone interested in the sport. We have a strong reputation within the football fraternity and are all fully committed to making Essex one of the best football institutions in the Country.”

Some of the benefits of Focus status include BUCS assistance in the production of a more detailed development plan, three Regional Development Advisory Group meetings per year and an annual review which will be reported back to FA National Staff. They will also help to offer more opportunities for students to play, coach, officiate and volunteer through sustainable partnerships as well as engaging with a wider circle of partners.

By working closely with the University, BUCS will also impact upon numerous key strategic areas in their own Development Strategy, which feeds directly into The FA’s National Game Strategy. By focusing their time to engage with specific institutions, BUCS staff can create effective partnerships with them and the Essex County FA to have a greater impact on areas such as participation and workforce development.

The University of Essex is one of the UK’s leading academic institutions and was founded in 1964 at Wivenhoe Park in Colchester. It has since grown in both reputation and size, resulting in the construction of additional campuses in Southend and Loughton, and they currently serve more than 10,000 students in total. The University has one of the best student participation rates in the Country and enjoys success in a number of sports, operating over 40 teams which continue to climb up various BUCS competition tables.

Their link with the Essex County FA was heightened when Education Development Officer, Lana Gillard, assisted in the application process for Focus status and the Association will now be represented at future quarterly review meetings. As part of a new service level agreement, the parties will regularly examine their respective development needs as well as sharing and highlighting good practice to the wider football community.


Lana celebrated: “This is a great achievement. The University’s success is significant as we develop more player, coach and volunteer pathways for youngsters to address the drop-off in participation for 16 to 21-year-olds. We’ve already run a ‘Beginners’ Guide to Futsal Coaching’ course with students as well as training and leadership camps at their Sports Centre but this partnership will enable us to work more closely and to trial new initiatives and projects which we hope will inspire the student body to get involved.”

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