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An investigation of elite girls’ and women’s football talent pathways: Evaluating the new girls’ talent pathway with a focus on talent identification and development in under-represented and hard-to-reach communities.

   Health & Life Sciences

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  Prof Vish Unnithan , Prof G McPherson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Position Overview:

The Women’s Technical Division at the English FA in conjunction with the Premier League and the University of the West of Scotland want to evaluate the success of current systems for identifying female talent which is representative of the population in England. We also want to better understand which groups are under-represented and continue to develop strategies to find talent in hard-to-reach communities.

In the 2022-23 season, the English FA announced the development of a new girls’ pathway which includes the launch of up to 70 FA Girls Emerging Talent Centres, a programme funded by the Premier League. Ongoing monitoring of the efficacy of the pathway and its talent development initiatives is critical.

The FA’s Women’s Technical division is seeking a PhD student who would acquire data and conduct analysis that supports resource allocation and deployment to the Women’s and Girls player pathway and talent system. We are specifically interested in the early part of the player pathway - up to and including the under 16 age group. We are looking for talent identification, talent development and player pathway expertise that can help shape the thinking about what should be measured within and across the pathway.

Research Topic:

Using an interrogation of databases within the FA and pathway organisations, the efficacy of talent pathways within the FA Emerging Talent Centres will be evaluated with a view to identifying clear deficits in terms of talent identification, selection and development within elite girls and women’s football. Subsequent analyses will take a multi-disciplinary approach (physiological/performance, psychological and socio-cultural) to identify the factors responsible for the anticipated inequities in Black, Asian and other minority ethnic individuals in the elite talent pathways overseen by the FA. The lens of these investigations will be from a player, coach and support staff perspective. 

Application Deadline

Friday 3rd March 2023

Start Date

1st June 2023 (flexible start date)

Funding Notes

The studentship is jointly funded by The English FA, Premier League and the University of the West of Scotland, and is a three-year full-time position commencing June 2023 (flexible start date). The funding will cover university fees, project consumables and a PhD stipend of approximately £19, 000 per annum.


In the first instance, informal enquiries can be made by email to Professor Vish Unnithan by Friday 24th February 2023 (vish.unnithan@uws.ac.uk). Applicants will be asked to submit a 2-page CV, cover letter highlighting your suitability for the PhD, and a copy of your most recent thesis (BSc or MSc/MRes) to Professor Vish Unnithan vish.unnithan@uws.ac.uk by the deadline of Friday March 3rd 2023.
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