A select group of Staffordshire sports students have been given an opportunity to swap the rainy weather of Stoke-on-Trent for the sun of Spain as part of a unique agreement between the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences and FC Barcelona.
The agreement allows students from Staffordshire University to visit the giants of Spanish football and look behind the scenes of the club. The students will get to meet and talk to the coaching and medical staff, watch training sessions and they will also receive a tour around the Camp Nou stadium.
Vish Unnithan, Professor of Cardiac Physiology who has worked with FC Barcelona for five years and helped organise the trip, is thrilled that the club agreed.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students. There’s no other university in the country that offers a relationship with the biggest football club in the world. Meeting the team behind players like Messi, and Iniesta is an unbelievable learning experience for our students.”
The delegation will meet the two heads of the club’s Methodology Department, Joan Vilà and Paco Seirul·lo who previously worked with Holland and Barca legend Johan Cruyff. The group of seven students will also watch a game at the Camp Nou, go behind the scenes at Barcelona’s city rivals Espanyol and share ideas with Spanish students at the city’s University of Ramon Lull.
“We’re flying in the face of Brexit’ , said Alison Bambridge, Lecturer in Sport Sociology, who is taking the final year Sports Development and Coaching and Sports Therapy students on the trip.
“We want this to be a long-lasting relationship that links Barcelona and Stoke on Trent.”
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes, who scored both goals for Manchester United against Barcelona in a European Cup Winners’ Cup final, and later played for the Catalunyan club, has praised the partnership between his old club and the university.
“I have good memories of Barcelona, playing for them and scoring against them! It’s good to hear about the close links between the club and Staffordshire University. I wish them well.”
The students and tutors fly out tomorrow from John Lennon airport in Liverpool,