ACU Exercise Science Alumni takes over High Performance at Arsenal
With a decorated career in High Performance Sport, ACU Exercise Science graduate Darren Burgess achieves a long term goal at Premier League club Arsenal.
After managing Athletes preparation in High Performance Sport for Liverpool FC, The Socceroos and AFL club Port Adelaide, it’s hard to imagine ACU graduate Darren Burgess being surprised. But Burgess was for once caught off-guard when Arsenal FC called him out of the blue for an opportunity to work in The English Premier League.
‘I got the phone call and didn’t think it was completely serious at first’
Burgess had been comfortable in his role with Port Adelaide FC as High Performance Manager and was happy enough to continue with the club into the near future at least. But the massive London club’s calling turned out to be genuine, a surprise to the humble Burgess.
The to work again with the world’s top athletes in arguably the worlds top football league was too good to pass up for Burgess who admitted he was ‘pretty excited about the possibility’
The excitement is hard to imagine for the accomplished High Performance Manager who worked with the Socceroos to make the 2010 World Cup and subsequently with Liverpool FC for three seasons. But the big-time clubs have been in is sight for a long time. Before starting with ACU as a lecturer in sports science he wrote application letters to 91 European football clubs.
‘I only got three back, saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’, so 88 ignored me’
Without a fax machine or an email address, Burgess hand wrote each letter
‘That was how keen I was to work in professional soccer’
With that passion Burgess set about making his way to the top of Elite Sport. He is clear on the second key ingredient that has taken him to Arsenal.
‘20-odd years of hard work’
Beginning at ACU in 1997, Burgess built his career with a balance between study and working in the industry of High Performance.
‘I was lecturing full-time at ACU, doing my own PhD and then working for the Sydney Swans for 20-odd hours a week and then 25 hours a week at Parramatta Power, and driving from Cronulla, where I lived, to ACU North Sydney to Parramatta Power, it was a pretty busy time but I loved it.’
Continued roles with AFL clubs eventually lead to a position with the Socceroos, a job he cherished.
‘I’ve been a fan of the Socceroos for as long as I can remember, to get that role was amazing’
The transition in training different types of athletes wasn’t such a leap but the key difference for Burgess in working with Premier League players is in their short space movement.
‘Acceleration and the agility …That’s the major difference between AFL players … that ability to move in tight spaces is just so crucial’
As well as the technical aspects increased importance of sports psychology as a space that has developed as modern athletes have changed and become more knowledgeable about their own training.
‘Your ability to relate to them becomes pretty important’
‘I would say at least as important as your ability to program for the players, is your ability to communicate and relate to them’
Burgess admits he’s the Socceroos job was a career highlight but being at Arsenal is the fulfilment of 2 decades work since writing to 91 clubs.
‘It’s a really exciting role, and I’m really excited about the next few years of the Arsenal football club.’
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