Sophia Samartzis lives and breathes football, so much so that she wanted to make a career out of it. Before she’d even completed her Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science at Deakin University, Sophia landed a sports science placement with the Geelong Cats Football Club. It was so much more than an opportunity to find out how her qualification could be applied in a workplace – it led to career opportunities beyond graduation that she’d never even considered.
Sophia recalls being certain that she wanted to work in football once she graduated. While studying, she was working as Head Trainer at Williamstown Football Club and knew she could take her learnings both on and off the field to an elite level. But once she accepted the placement at the Geelong Cats, Sophia realised she could eventually accept a range of roles. ‘If you keep your thinking open and don’t start on a narrow path, opportunities can be really broad,’ she suggests.
During her placement, Sophia was able to demonstrate her ability to be a strong team player. ‘Deakin taught me how to work strategically, differently and to think on my feet. Those skills have transferred across,’ Sophia says. Her abilities were certainly recognised, with the club offering her a graduate opportunity.
'If you keep your thinking open and don’t start on a narrow path, opportunities can be really broad'
Deakin University graduate
Although she started in a sports science position, Sophia was promoted repeatedly within a few short years and today she is the club’s Football Operations Manager. ‘My job involves coordinating the various components of the club into a holistic football program for players, staff and coaches. It could be anything from logistics management, to budgets, to working with external partners,’ Sophia says and highlights that the responsibilities extend well beyond what she studied.
Through the Geelong Cats Football Club’s research and innovation partnership with Deakin, Sophia is seeing history repeat itself. ‘Our program with Deakin starts out with student internships through to strategic research and development appointments,’ she says and adds, ‘These sorts of of projects are a fundamental part of our football program, in an industry where a competitive edge can make all the difference.’ In these roles, students and graduates look at many aspects of the sport, including patterns of play, diet and sleep. The collaboration with Deakin gives the club access to leading technology and expertise. But knowledge is only part of the job criteria. ‘What we’re looking for in graduates is adaptiveness, not the perfect answer,’ Sophia says.
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