Health Sciences

Michael O'Donnell, Master of High Performance Sport

Learn by doing. Michael O'Donnell assisting the rehabilitation and strength and conditioning at Port Melbourne Football Club

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"After finishing a Sport Science Honours degree in England, I knew that having a Masters would help me stand out in what is a very saturated and competitive market. I also wanted to gain more knowledge in sport science and the practical application of knowledge in elite sport."

"I wanted  to enhance my employability but just could not find a course that best suited my interests. Being an intern at Brentford Football Club, I saw firsthand the skills needed in a high performance environment. So when I found the Master of High Performance Sport, I knew when reading the course content that it would tick all the boxes for what I wanted to study."

"A highlight for me has been meeting the vast array of professionals that took part at the intensive week. Particularly meeting Dr. Darren Burgess and talking with him about his role at Port Adelaide and Liverpool F.C. Coming from a soccer background and now working in Australian football, I had plenty to ask and he was more than helpful in his guidance."

"The staff at ACU are fantastic. They are inspirational in their unit delivery and have many years of experience working at the highest level of their chosen fields. The staff have always been very prompt in their response and give excellent feedback to guide you through the course."

"Studying online has many advantages. Particularly when working full time, you are able to see your lectures and study in your own time. Of course it feels quite isolated at first, but the online discussions are there to keep everyone integrated. Plus you are able to learn from everyone’s experiences which makes it a great forum for learning. When I was living in the UK, it was really easy to be a part of a global network of professionals which the Master of High Performance Sport facilitates fantastically."

"Growing up in Ireland I played a lot of sport, particularly Gaelic football and soccer, but I always had a fascination with AFL. Not having any avenue to be a part of elite Australian football in Ireland and the UK, I thought that coming to Australia would give me an opportunity to be a part of a sport which I hold in high regard. Also, with having to travel halfway across the world for the intensive week, I thought that I would make a small trip into a new adventure. In moving I would be able to liaise with my lecturers in person, experience a new country and try to gain as many quality experiences as possible. I am now gaining experience in the VFL, Victoria AFL State Academy and doing my major project with Cricket Australia. So the move has been pretty good so far."

"As of right now, my major project is still in the early stages of development. I am working alongside Dr. Stuart Cormack as he assists in a project run by Cricket Australia. At this early stage, Dr. Cormack and I are discussing the key focus of my project and will be finalising a topic in due course."

"Prior to studying the Master of High Performance Sport I worked with Brentford Football Club as a strength and conditioning/sport science intern. Working directly with the elite athletes, I assisted with the day to day sport science provision at the club. I was responsible for collecting daily wellness data, monitoring hydration levels and implementing post training nutrition strategies to the first, development and U18 squads. Furthermore, I led warm ups, cool downs, gym based and field based conditioning sessions in the Academy. Since moving to Australia I secured a volunteer role as a strength and conditioning/rehabilitation supervisor role at Port Melbourne Football Club. Monitoring and leading gym and field based programs to the senior, development and rehabilitation groups. I also managed to secure a volunteer role at AFL Victoria Metropolitan State Academy group as a rehabilitation and recovery assistant. In this role I liaise with a team of physiotherapists, doctors and coaches to deliver rehabilitation programs to the best U18 players in the TAC cup."

"Biggest career highlight was being involved with Brentford F.C. in their promotion to the Championship division. A fantastic effort which the club waited 20 years to achieve. I was also part of the conditioning and sport science staff to the Academy U16 group who were runners up in the EPPP Category 2 National Finals. To play the lead role in a national final was quite the experience and something I will never forget."

"To start off, volunteer your time, build up your network and practical experience at the amateur and semi-professional levels. Take any opportunity you can to apply what you have learned at university. Also, be sure to network with experienced professionals. It is a great way to learn something new from someone who has much more experience than you. Plus you never know who may give you an opportunity which will not come around by itself. Lastly, get accredited. Gaining that extra knowledge through a professional governing body could make a huge difference."

Michael O'Donnell played in the AFL London Grand Final with the North London Lions