International footballers among trio signing up for University journalism scholarship and Derby County Women

9 July 2020

Three new students – two of whom have already played football for their countries - are ready to begin a unique scholarship programme at the University of Derby which will also see them playing for Derby County Women U20s next season.

The University has the UK’s only undergraduate Football Journalism degree course and its programme leaders have also created a trailblazing partnership with Derby County FC Women.

Joining the U20 squad for the Ewe Rams, as the women’s club is known, are Romanian U19 international Nicoleta Toporas, Welsh goalkeeper Caitlin Forrester and Hereford Ladies defender Erin Cooke.

All three will study football journalism at the University and will have their tuition fees fully funded for the duration of the three-year scholarship programme. 

Peter Lansley, Senior Lecturer in Football Journalism at the University, said: “We are delighted to welcome our new scholars to the University of Derby to study football journalism, as well as to join Derby County Women. It is an opportunity which we are very proud and excited to be able to offer.

“The exponential rise of women's football over the past five years is still to be matched in the press box, so we're encouraged that our unique scholarship, to redress that gender imbalance in the industry and also to support women playing football, is bearing fruit.”

Students on the course have reported from the Women’s World Cup and European Championship tournaments in recent seasons, interviewing the game’s top players. Among the students was Olivia Fox, who joined the degree course and the club through the scholarship in 2018, making her first team debut for Derby late last year.

As well as turning out for Derby County’s squads, all four will also be eligible to play for the University’s Team Derby women’s football squad while studying here.

Peter added: “The University's football team will be improved with our four scholars and this will only enhance our partnership with Derby County FC Women. In our own small way, we want to help make the big difference."

As football looks for a return to normality after the COVID-19 lockdown, Derby County Women first team will be pushing for promotion into the FA Women’s Championship, having finished runners up in the National League when the season was curtailed by the pandemic.

Duncan Gibb, the club’s Chief Executive, said: “As a club we are wholly committed to providing players either within our current set-up, or those potentially coming into it, with the highest standard of dual-pathway opportunity and experience.

“We are delighted to see our portfolio of player/football journalism scholars rise from one to four for the forthcoming season, and we very much look forward to seeing them progress both on and off the pitch both for Derby County FC Women and the University of Derby.”

For more information, visit Derby Uni Footy Journos

To find out about our Football Journalism scholarships, visit the University’s website:

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