Oxford Brookes Business School students partner with Oxfordshire FA to conduct market research

Students in OBBS with Jonathan Duckworth of the Oxfordshire FA
From left to right: Oxford Brookes students James Chapman, Dom Evetts and Karla Shannon Jones. Centre, Jonathan Duckworth, CEO of Oxfordshire FA. Right, Brookes students William Owen, Sofiia Olesnevych, and Emma Pucci.

Students at Oxford Brookes University have partnered with the Oxfordshire Football Association to conduct research into inclusivity, diversity and access to grassroots sport for young people.

First year Digital Marketing, Marketing and Events students studying at Oxford Brookes Business School (OBBS) were asked to conduct market research on behalf of the Oxfordshire FA. Their objective was to analyse the reasons behind the decline in sports participation among young people after they start university. The market research builds upon the findings of 'The Next Wave', a research initiative commissioned by the FA in 2023, which uncovered the decrease in participation numbers.

The students conducted the market research by sending out questionnaires to students at Oxford Brookes belonging to the 'Generation Z' demographic, aged between 18 and 24. Approximately 2,000 responses were received, answering questions on equality and diversity within sports, as well as giving suggestions on how to enhance and sustain engagement in sports among their generation.

The students then presented their market research and recommendations to representatives from the Oxfordshire FA at a presentation day held at Oxford Brookes’ Headington campus last week.

Sarah Rogers, a Lecturer from OBBS and module leader, said: “Working in a professional capacity with a real and relevant research brief boosts students’ employability in the graduate job market. From a student perspective, the module objective is to create a learning environment in the classroom where the project helps students develop the soft skills augmenting the project-based learning experience with interdisciplinary teamwork. This adds to their CV and employability. Employers are looking to hire graduates with both technical and soft skills such as creativity, problem solving, leadership and communication.  

“Many students will include their experience into their third year placement applications and CV for internships. Our client project with the Oxfordshire FA asked students to research the challenges and opportunities in football and grassroots football participation encompassing issues around access, equality, diversity, and inclusion. This is a topical and relevant discussion in today's marketing environment. The research groups tackled the complexities of this topic head on, presenting their research confidently and professionally, sharing actionable insights, practical recommendations and creative ideas for the client to take away. Students should feel very proud of their input into this project.”
This was the first time that OBBS has teamed up with the Oxfordshire FA for the marketing research module. The market research and presentations both count towards students’ overall first year grades.

Jonathan Duckworth, Chief Executive of the Oxfordshire FA, said: “We have been hugely impressed by the application and dedication which the OBBS students have shown. They have great careers ahead of them. Some of the thought-provoking presentations were better than I have seen from professional marketing agencies. Sarah Rogers and her teaching team have been so supportive and her students have really helped us to successfully identify fresh and insightful ways to inclusively engage with Gen Z audiences. Our progressive partnership with Oxford Brookes University provides invaluable research as part of developing our new strategic approach to encouraging inclusive health and wellbeing throughout Oxfordshire for the benefit of the community as a whole.”

Besnik Dauti, a BA (Hons) Business & Marketing Management student who took part in the research, added: ''I was anxious but thrilled to work on this module. Since I had never given a presentation to a live client before, I did feel unprepared for this. Nonetheless, the assignment of our group helped me feel much better because I was working on this presentation with incredible people, and the lecturer and seminar leaders were very helpful and supported us all the way through. To the students in the future who take this module, I promise you will love this module, so enjoy and have fun!''