Former sports student achieves football goal with dream FA job

North Warwickshire & South Leicestershire College, FA, James Ryder, NWSLC

A former sport student from North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) who joined premiership team West Bromwich Albion FC as an intern has worked his way to a role with the FA and is now based at St George’s Park as senior men’s performance analyst working with the U21 squad.

James’ passion for football took him from a sport course at NWSLC to helping the England football team win its first ever penalty shootout against Colombia in the 2018 World Cup. James’ ambitions started at a young age when he was asked to write down the job he most wanted at the age of 14 and seal it in an envelope. He remembers clearly that his dream would be to become a premiership football club manager.

James, from Weddington, had always been a soccer enthusiast and left school to join the college’s sport course at its Nuneaton Campus to see if he could follow his ambition to work in football. He went on to study for a degree in sport and exercise science at Nottingham Trent University and was the youngest person at the time to achieve his UEFA B Licence in coaching football.

James said, “I had always loved football and started out playing for Nuneaton Griff FC. One day when I was working with West Brom, I found myself in the 60,000-seat Emirates stadium at an Arsenal match and I remember that I had to pinch myself when I realised that this was my place of work.

“The college sport course opened my eyes to the types of careers that are available and gave me a really good foundation in the skills and disciplines that I would need to get on. I learned about playing, coaching, the business aspects of sport, the IT skills I would need, and how to make presentations which I do a lot now in my job working with the England u21 team.”

James was especially proud when the Young Lions won the Toulon Tournament in 2017 against stiff competition from Brazil, Spain, Qatar, and Mexico. As part of that tournament, James worked with players including Chelsea FC striker Tammy Abraham and Lewis Cook, midfielder for Bournemouth FC. During the 2018 World Cup held in Russia, James worked on the analysis that helped contribute to the England team’s success in reaching the semi-final. He is currently coaching the England u21 side as they take on international teams as part of qualifying for the European Championships in 2021.

James added, “Going to college was great for me because it gave me the building blocks I needed to succeed and helped me to take the first steps into a rewarding career that I love.”