There is a football game on, thousands of fans are cheering for their team, and Darren Burgess (left) is at the centre of it all. Caitlin Ganter spoke to ACU graduate and the fitness coach for Liverpool FC about bagging his dream job.
Training in sub-zero temperatures, answering to millions of fans, and working more than 70 hours ab week sounds like a tough job. But as Head of Fitness and Conditioning for Liverpool Football Club in the UK, Darren Burgess is the envy of many.
The 37-year-old joined Liverpool FC following the 2010 World Cup, after having spent three years as fitness coach for the Socceroos. After studying at the University of New South Wales and AC U – where he is in the final stages of a PhD in movement analysis – Darren went on to work with elite AFL teams such as Port Adelaide FC and the Sydney Swans. He also worked with National League Soccer team Parramatta Power and as Head of Sports Science for the Australian Football Federation.
“I’m thrilled to be working with Liverpool. I remember when I started at uni I sent letters to every single professional football club in England, so to be here now is fantastic,” Darren said.
I’m basically in charge of the players’ fitness levels and so my job is to prepare them to play hopefully 50 to 60 games a season and to prevent injuries from happening.
“We need to monitor everything from their sleep to their eating habits. Each session we know exactly how far they have run, walked, jogged, sprinted and turned, so we keep a pretty close eye on them.
“We’ve also bought in blood analysis techniques which we do weekly with the players, and we even use GPS tracking now so we know every step they are taking at training.
“There are a lot of challenges in my job – coping with pressure and criticism, playing 60 games in a season and dealing with players who have never seen a gym before are just a few.
“However it is an amazing career and my friends are certainly jealous, but it also took a lot of hard work to get here.” Darren said that while it’s often difficult being away from family and friends, it’s never hard to remember just why he loves his job.
“I’ve had so many amazing experiences – warming up the Socceroos before our first World Cup game against Germany in South Africa was a real highlight,” he said.
“It’s great to work with world class players. Every training session I see some amazing skills that are just superb, and working at Anfield stadium in front of 40,000 people every second weekend is not bad either.”
Darren has also worked at AC U as a sports science lecturer, and said it was his colleagues who inspired him to push for greater heights. “The people at AC U are extraordinary,” he said.
“Professsor Geraldine Naughton is one of the most dedicated and patient lecturers I have ever met, and I can honestly say if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be tackling a PhD or working at Liverpool.”