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Football Academy students meet Northern Ireland’s women’s player Julie Nelson

Football Academy Visitmain

Published: 1 June 2021

There was great excitement last week when Julie Nelson, the most capped player of Northern Ireland women’s football team, met some of our Football Academy students. Julie is coached, along with the rest of the women’s team, by Johnny Pedlow who is also a part-time lecturer in Sports Coaching at our Centre for Sports.

As the Strength and Conditioning coach for these elite players, Johnny is delighted, as are the rest of us, that the women’s team has gained such great success recently. His skills and experience demonstrate the quality of the teaching staff at Belfast Met.

After graduating in Health and Leisure Studies and completing fitness coach training courses, Johnny went on to work for Ulster Rugby for two years. It was in 2011 that Johnny started to work for the IFA where he coached the junior teams, the county excellence squads and some of the senior ladies’ team sessions. From 2012 Johnny worked with the senior women’s team on a regular basis as their strength and conditioning coach, both in the gym and on the pitch. Johnny has got to travel with the team to camps for their pre and post-match training sessions, to prepare them for their international matches. And then when he’s not at a camp abroad with the team, he trains the domestic players based at home twice a week.

Lynsey Sloan, Curriculum Area Manager for the Centre for Sport, confirmed: It was great to witness history being made as the N.I Women qualified for the Euro’s, particularly with past student Nadene Caldwell scoring a late goal. We cannot wait to welcome new females on to our academy as they become inspired by these outstanding achievements. Having professional coaches, like Johnny on our academy is a real strength of the programme and supports our scholar athletes whether they choose a career in performing, coaching or other athlete supporting roles.

Johnny has been training Julie since 2012 who is the centre back player for the Northern Ireland women’s team which has qualified for the European Championships next year, and will have played a role in the fantastic performances we have seen from this dedicated and hard-working amateur team.

As well as being a high-performance strength and conditioning coach with the IFA, Johnny who has been teaching at Belfast Met’s Football Academy since 2017, said: “I give the students the same conditioning and strengthening training as a professional athlete would receive, in terms of their contact time and education. The Level 3 BTEC qualification is an equivalent of three A Levels and gives students many avenues to go down.

He added, “Students can progress to become professional footballers, sports coaches or fitness consultants, or go straight into Higher Education. They study a range of skills such as IFA approved coaching badges, physiotherapy to sports injury management, fitness training and testing, sports science and analysis of games and opposition, so students can find out more about the different pathways available to them, which may not just be about becoming a professional footballer.”

Many of the College’s alumni are now professional football players, who have enjoyed many successes, such as Joel Cooper and Jordan Stewart who won the Irish Cup with Linfield F.C. on Friday night, with Joel scoring the winning goal. Belfast Met alumni Paul O’Neill and Aaron Donnelly are now playing for Cliftonville F.C., Malachy Smith and James McCarthy for Glentoran F.C. Then there is Jonny McMurray who plays for Larne F.C. and Steven McCullough and Owen McKeown who are with Ballymena F.C.

Learn more about the full-time Level 3 Football Academy course

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