Tom completed his MSc in Sport and Exercise Medicine in 2020. He combined studying full time with his commitments as a parasport scholar at the University.
Tom was a key member of the University Futsal squad and played for their first team on weekly basis during term time.
He also had to balance this with his international sporting ambitions with the England Partially Sighted Futsal squad, where he won a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships.
Tom talks openly about his experiences as a parasport scholar and how he managed his commitments on and off the court.
What were your sporting highlights during 2019-20?
Beating Loughborough away 4-2 scoring two, beating Bath Away 6-4 scoring 3, to teach BUCS champs semi-finals and getting to the World Championships final with the England Partially Sighted Squad in Turkey in December 2019.
How did you find it balancing your academics and sporting commitments?
Around Christmas, when I pushed the intensity of my training in preparation for the World Championships, I found that the most challenging - having to arrange extenuating circumstances, so that I didn’t have to think about university work when I was away with England. I was proactive and made sure I and my tutors knew exactly what I needed to do. As the year went on, I continued to stringently plan and allocate my academic work around my training and fixture schedules. So in the end, I did have great balance and plenty of time for both.
What support did you access as part of your para sport scholarship throughout the year?
The High Performance Zone (HPZ) and strength and conditioning guidance was the main thing. I made sure that I was utilising the knowledge and expertise of the coaches and made maximum use of the facilities. I used the physiotherapy appointments when I needed them as well as the recovery services. The final thing I found really useful was the progress check-ins with my allocated mentor, which allowed for objective markers to track progress within various academic and sporting pillars, so that processes could be put in place to facilitate and improve certain areas if necessary.
How did you feel that the scholarship supported your sporting ambitions?
The scholarship gave me the platform and tools to maximise my athletic capabilities in preparation for the world championships with England.
As a visually impaired athlete is there any further support that you felt you needed, that wasn’t provided by the University?
No. The disability support services, both sporting and academic are genuinely excellent.
Is there any other support outside of the sports department that you accessed from the University?
When I first arrived at the university, I used the disability academic support services to ensure that I had a sufficient academic support plan in place.
What advice would you give to new para sport scholars coming in to the programme?
Make maximum use of the faculties e.g. recovery, HPZ, extra practice sessions- Make use of the knowledge of staff e.g. S/C, sports coaches, UoN Sport staff- Finally, enjoy every second of it. There won’t be many opportunities to be surrounded by so many other talented athletes, in a world class facility, with all the tools you need to develop yourself as an athlete.