Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work

Brookes Student wins FA 'Outstanding Student' Award

Friday, 25 October 2013


A former Brookes student in Sports Coaching and Physical Education, Michael Hopkins, has been presented with the prestigious award of Outstanding Student Prize for Sports Coaching and Physical Education.

The award is supported by the Football Association, the chief governing body of English football, and was awarded to Michael for his hugely impressive grades, as he managed to score the highest average percentage throughout the course over a three year period, which he completed with a First Class Honours Degree in June 2013.

Will Roberts, Michael’s Dissertation Supervisor and Senior Lecturer for Sports Coaching and Physical Education, paid tribute to the hard work and dedication Michael put into the course. "Michael has been an outstanding student throughout his three years at Brookes. The achievements of gaining a First Class Honours Degree and receiving the Football Association Prize for best student in Sport, Coaching and Physical Education at Brookes are testament to his endeavour in his studies. 

"It was a pleasure to work with Michael during his three years with us and whilst he shone academically he also took part in a number of activities within the university. This rounded experience, I believe, stood him in good stead. Michael will go on to contribute to the field of coaching and physical education in a positive manner and we are proud of his achievements; hopefully he will benefit from the recognition the FA have bestowed on him as well as the clear benefits and value of a Brookes degree."

Michael attributes his success to his love of sport from an early age, particularly football.  "Football has played a hugely important part of my life from both a playing and coaching perspective,” he explained. "Playing quickly went from being a recreational hobby, to what I dreamed would be my future career. I signed for Reading FC Academy at the age of eleven and during the five years I spent with the Academy, I developed immensely both as a player and as a person. 

"Though I was released from the Academy when decisions were made on which players were going to become the next squad of apprentices, my love for the game was not tarnished and if anything I had even more impetus to achieve a career in a coaching role. Since then, I've gone on to represent Hungerford Town FC in the Southern Premier Division and completed the FA Level One and Two courses."

Looking back on his time at Brookes, Michael had special praise for the staff that supported him as he worked towards his degree. "I worked with most staff in various modules throughout the course. Subject Co-ordinator John Brierley was one of the lecturers I had frequent contact with and was someone I really admired and respected for his wealth of experience and knowledge. Will Roberts was my Dissertation Supervisor, and the member of staff I had the most contact with in terms of teaching hours, and he was great at offering students a different perspective to consider when tackling assignments. Will was a terrific sounding board to bounce ideas off; he really gave me the confidence to challenge myself both in and out of lectures, as well as helping me understand who the authors and key thinkers were in each field. His lectures and innovative teaching methods, which I have now tried to emulate within my own teaching practices, always inspired me as a student."

With the award under his belt, Michael has now set his sights on putting his skills into practice. "Since completing my degree I have taken a position at Cherwell Secondary School as a Cover Supervisor, which includes being involved in the teaching of P.E. throughout the school. I hope to be able to gain my Qualified Teacher Status next year and I'm actively involved with coaching the Year Eight, Ten, Eleven and Sixth Form football teams at the school. I've also been able to implement knowledge gained from the modules on my degree, such as Advanced Coaching Practice, my dissertation on athlete knowledge construction and my Sports Coaching and Physical Education placement, into my own sessions."

The FA award has a financial stipend attached to it and Michael has high hopes that the award will provide a major boost to his future plans. "I hope to use this award towards gaining an F.A. Level 3 Certificate in Coaching Football, which I believe would be a great qualification for me to have and would facilitate me being able to put into practice what I learnt from my course with the football teams at the school."