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Coach’s Blog – Dean Parsons

It has become evident in recent times that the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent containment measures will have a long-lasting impact on the economy, businesses and the way in which many of us approach our working lives in the future. We at the University of South Wales have had to make rapid changes to how we operate, including how to provide a high quality education via ‘Blended Learning’ (something the Faculty of Life Sciences & Education is very comfortable with, having won several awards with our innovation and creativity in this area), as well as planning for the new academic year and ensuring students will continue to receive a fist class education.

Naturally, there have been bumps in the road, and everyone in the organisation have had to accelerate new ways of working, as well as adapt to changing circumstances in their personal lives. On a personal note, I felt far more productive ‘whilst working from home’, however, as someone who is developing neophyte teachers, coaches and other key professional sports staff, it is imperative that we return as quickly as possible, at least in part, to environments where vocational, ‘experiential learners’ thrive. Meaningful placements with industry partners are key to student development.

On a positive note, I felt my organisation’s (USW’s) response during the pandemic has been excellent. Management at all levels, which plays a vital role in supporting us on a daily basis to do our jobs effectively, has been incredibly supportive. The University of South Wales has checked in on our health and wellbeing regularly since the start of the pandemic, with those who are working from home (the vast majority of staff) and have ensured that an excellent staff and student support system is in place.

We in Higher Education always work hard to remain at the forefront of research and technology and in turn provide the environments to apply this new found knowledge and skill set. Pontyridd RFC and in particular the foresight of Director of Rugby Justin Burnell, allows me as a senior lecturer to provide various platforms at the club for students to learn their craft in areas such as Coaching, Performance Analysis and Strength & Conditioning. USW have a number of students who assist on training nights and during match days to provide support in all key areas at the club. Justin Burnell’s continued support and keen interest in education and training is greatly appreciated by myself and the University.

I’ve been around the game a long time, in various guises, with various clubs, at various levels, and the current blend of experience and youth at Pontypridd RFC is exciting. We will certainly have pace to burn which suits our style of play and is something that the ‘Ponty faithful’ are accustomed to witnessing.

I can say with great confidence – get your season ticket (whatever that looks like!) and get ready for what are in my opinion very exciting times ahead for ‘The Pont’, whenever the Premiership is given the green light to go!

Dean Parsons

Performance Analyst