Michael Cooper - Sport and Exercise Science - Student profiles - University of Derby

Michael Cooper

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science graduate, now Academy Performance Analyst at Derby County FC. 

Kicking off a dream career in football

An internship with Derby County FC paved the way for BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science graduate Michael Cooper to secure a full-time role as a performance analyst with the club.

“Simply put, I get to watch football for a living,” says Michael, who is now combining his role with part-time study towards a Master of Research (MRes) qualification at the University.

Michael works predominantly with the U9-U16 age groups. He and colleagues film and code all the games, relaying valuable data back to the players and academy staff to assist during analysis sessions.

His involvement with Derby County began when he successfully applied for an internship at the end of the first year of his degree. His internship lasted throughout his second year; he moved into a part-time role with the club during his final year; and he secured his full-time job as soon as he graduated.

The Derby County connection has helped inform his studies on both his University courses. It provided data for his final-year dissertation which he is now taking forward in his MRes project, exploring the different attacking philosophies employed by academy teams and the senior side of a professional football club.

Michael would fully recommend an internship to supplement a degree. He explains: “Even if you aren’t yet sure which area you’d like to go down in future, experience on a CV is crucial. The degree qualification might not be enough to help you stand out.”

He also praises the BSc for the applied work which kept the modules interesting, for the extensive support he received from the staff, and for ensuring he could explore the wide-ranging opportunities available in sport. He says: “Due to the broad nature of the course and the vast knowledge of teaching available, you cover most topics to help you filter your options down as the years progress.

“For me, the more intangible aspects were important too, such as time management, working to deadlines, and making sacrifices to give yourself enough time to complete your work.”

Michael’s ambition is to become a first team performance analyst. He feels that, by advancing his academic knowledge with the MRes, he will take another major step towards achieving that goal.