A group of lecturers from the Department of Sport and Exercise Science in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have established the 'Football Research Group' for the purpose of a coordinated approach to researching football in Ireland and involving researchers from different fields.

The aim of the group is to research new theoretical and practical approaches for the purpose of influencing football policy both nationally and internationally.

The membership and focus of the group have expanded since its initial inception, to now include researchers with links to the Italian FA, and a range of English, Italian and German professional clubs.

The group have also been designated as the official research partner with the Croatian Football Association.

These links will also provide opportunities for WIT students with dissertation projects having already begun in partnership with external group members.

Laura Finnegan, lecturer in WIT’s Department of Sport and Exercise Science, and course leader on the recreation and sports management degrees believes that there are fantastic individual researchers in football based in Ireland, but there is lacking a centralised hub for those researchers.

"The group initially identified a lack of coordinated research being conducted on football in the Republic of Ireland and decided to bring together some of those involved in various pockets of research nationwide to aid the collaboration and dissemination of football research," said Finnegan.

"There is great scope for other researchers embedded in other sports and wider associated aspects e.g., talent development, coaching, performance analysis, to contribute to the group also."

The members of the Football Research Group consists of a mixture of lecturers with a wide range of expertise in the areas of talent development and organisational structure in football, player migration, psychology, transitions and coaching; and also national and international experts in football research.

The current members of the research group are Laura Finnegan, Jean McArdle, Darren Murray, Emma Saunders, Tom O’Connor, Stephen Finn and Chris Thompson. Future research areas for the WIT based group include ecological approaches to talent development, youth development pathway analysis, migratory patterns within youth football and the influence of place and date or birth on development, among other areas.

Dr Mark White, Vice President for Research, Innovation & Graduate Studies commented, "It is great to see not just a new research group in WIT but one that focuses on such a unique area and that has the potential to give rise to very interesting research outputs and also open up new pathways for prospective postgraduates in the Institute."

He continued, "This research group is a great opportunity to further engage WIT with the fantastic soccer community that exists across the south east. WIT has so much research, development, and knowledge to offer the soccer community and so much to learn from that community also."

The lecturers involved lecture across a number of different courses in WIT including BSc (Hons) in Exercise Sciences (Common Entry), BSc (Hons) in Sports Coaching & Performance and the Bachelor of Business in Recreation & Sport Management courses.