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Ryan Thomas

Senior Lecturer

School of Sport, Health and Wellbeing

01752 636700 Ext:5642

Ryan Thomas

Role Summary



PhD 'Actors, networks, and interdependancies: a relational analysis of talent identification in elite youth football', Northumbria University (ongoing)

MSc Sports Management, Northumbria University

BSc Hons Sports Development, University of East London

HEA Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Development, University of Exeter

1st 4 Sport Level 3 Certificate in Coaching Football (UEFA B License)

FA Youth Award (module 1, 2 and 3 inc. assessment for full FA Youth Award)

FA Learning Licensed Level 1 Tutor

FA Learning Licensed Youth Module 1 Tutor

FA Level 1 Talent Identification

RFU Level 2 Rugby Coaching


Football Development & Coaching

Sports Development

Sports Development and Coaching

Sports Development & Sports Management

Held the role of programme leader for both the BA Hons International Event & Sport Management programme, and FdA Football Coaching & Development programme between 2011 and 2015


Relationships, stakeholder and network analysis in grass-roots and performance sport

Eight years experience working as a sports development practitioner in various settings which included County Sports Partnerships, National Governing Bodies of Sport, professional football clubs and specific national projects (Active Sports).

The complexities of identifying and developing talent in sport 

Pedagogical issues and challenges on sports-related degree programmes: embedding employability

Micro-politics in sports coaching environments

Coach-perceptions and experiences of formal coach education and mentoring programmes



Thomas, R; Potrac, P; Hall, E; Nelson, L (2018) From practice to theory: Analysing the relational nature of community sports coaching. Research presented at the CRiC Coaching in the Community Symposium: Unpacking the challenges, tensions, and realities of the community sports coaching profession. Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, 2018

Doggart, L., Thomas, R., Elford, P. and Catlow, S. (2017) A review of the BASES Position Stand on Curriculum-based Work Placements in Sport and Exercise Sciences. The Sport & Exercise Scientist, issue 53, Autumn, pp20. BASES: Leeds, UK.

Thomas, R. and Brown, P.C. (2010) ‘Making Sense of it All: Discussing the Boundaries and Essential Elements associated with Successful Sports Development work in the UK’ Journal of Physical Activity and Human Development Summer 2010 No. 4


Thomas, R; Potrac, P; Hall, E; Nelson, L (2019) Beyond the production line: the role of relationism and social network analysis in understanding the interactions, relationships and ties of stakeholders within the growing academy environment. Research presented at the Football Collective Conference 2019: from grassroots to hyper-commodification. Sheffield United Football Club: Bramall Lane, Sheffield: UK, 2019.

Cory, M. & Thomas, R. (2017) An investigation into the effect of the Football Association’s ‘trophy events’ on the attitudes and coaching behaviours of a youth football coach. Research presented at the UK Sports Development Research Network Annual Conference, Plymouth Marjon University, UK, 2017

Thomas, R; Brown, P; Dowling, M (2017) Augmenting the student experience through digital innovation. Research presented at the Higher Education Academy Annual Conference Generation TEF: Teaching in the Spotlight. Manchester University, UK, 2017 

Thomas, R; Dowling, M; Brown, P (2016) Examining stakeholder relationships in high performance sport environments. Research presented at the UK Sports Development Research Network Annual Conference, Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK, 2016

Brown, P; Gribble, Z; Thomas, R (2016) Digital innovation award: sports development ‘HUB’. A project update. Presented at the University of St Mark and St John Learning & Teaching Conference. University of St Mark and St John, Plymouth. July 2016 

Thomas, R. (2012) An evaluation of curriculum design and content in the Practical Sports Development Module at UCP Marjon. Presented at UCP Marjon Learning, Teaching and Research Conference 2012: Redefining the contours of Learning, Teaching Research in the 21st Century. Plymouth: UCP Marjon. 5th-6th July 2012

Picknell, G., Thomas, R., and Cusack, A. (2010). Stepping into the unknown: An investigation of psychological stressors experienced by student coaches. Research presented at the BASES Annual Conference, Glasgow, UK, 2010.

Picknell, G., Thomas, R., and Cusack, A. (2010). Psychological stressors experienced by student sports coaches. Research presented at the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group Annual Conference, Sheffield, UK, 2010.

Thomas, R. (2009) Have things really changed? Perceptions of Women's Football in England. Research presented at the School of Sport, Physical Education and Leisure Annual Conference, University College Plymouth St. Mark & St. John, Plymouth, UK, 2009.

Thomas, R. (2006) Critically analysing Talent Identification procedures, and investigating the reasons behind the low percentage of England International football players produced in the South West of England. Research presented at the School of Sport, Physical Education and Leisure Annual Conference, University College Plymouth St. Mark & St. John, Plymouth, UK, 2006.

Invited Speeches:

Thomas, R and Brown, P (2016) Careers in Sports Development. Talk given at Careers in Sport Event, University of St Mark and St John, Plymouth, UK, 2016

Thomas, R. and Long, G (2013), Using small sided games to enhance creativity. Devon FA Twilight Coaches Club: A CPD Event for the FA Licenced Coaches Club 

Expert Membership of professional bodies

Higher Education Academy (Senior Fellow)

FA Licenced Coaches Club

FA Licenced Scouts Club

Roles on external bodies

  • External Examiner: FdA Football Coaching, University of Central Lancashire (Myerscough College)
  • External Panel Member (validation event): BA Hons Coaching and Physical Education, Anglia Ruskin University
  • External Panel Member (validation event): FdA Football Coaching, Bishops Grosseteste University  

Other Interests


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