Three graduates shared their career journeys with students at our recent Alumni Insights session with Sports and Exercise students. Sophie Murray, Kemal Ismail and Dan Towers all studied Sports subjects at the University and are now putting their degrees into action, working in careers spanning teaching, coaching and performance analytics. They spoke to students about their approach to their studies and how they got to where they are today. 

Watch the full session below or on YouTube:

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Sophie Murray, Teacher of PE at Oasis Academy MediaCity

BSc Sports Science: Human Performance, 2021,

A keen sportsperson and a former competitive dancer, Sophie knew from a young age that teaching was the career for her. As a PE teacher at Oasis Academy, Sophie specialises in dance and performance and also teaches science, despite not feeling confident in science at school or in her degree.

“I was so negative about my abilities, and I really didn’t think that I was going to be able to make it through, specifically when it came to things like anatomy and biomechanics. They felt beyond me.

“In the second year, I chose the human performance pathway and I felt much more comfortable when I did that. Doing psychology and nutrition was much more me and I felt like I could progress further within that pathway.

“I really do feel like I finally got everything that I worked for and I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

“I wish I could tell my science teacher what I’m up to now. I bet he wouldn’t believe me.”

Kemal Ismail, Senior Strength and Conditioning Coach at Middlesex Cricket

MSc Strength & Conditioning, 2016

Kem’s love of sports came from the camaraderie he felt playing on sports teams growing up. “It’s being part of being something bigger than yourself. I knew that I wanted to be part of a team, and that’s what I wanted to do.”

His impressive work history includes roles such as Lead Academy Sports Scientist at Charlton Athletic Football Club and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Enfield Town FC. His experience extends to Bradford Bulls, where he was a Strength and Conditioning Coach, and the Turkish Basketball Federation, where he assisted the Female Olympic Basketball Team at the 2012 Olympics in London.

“I was very, very, very lucky that they wanted someone that could speak English and Turkish and was willing to work for free. So I was like, alright then, I’ll do that for a couple of months and it was a great opportunity.”

He then served as the Head of Sport Science and Medicine at Colchester United F.C., before moving to become Head of Physical Development at West Ham United Women in 2021. Earlier this year, he started his most recent role as Senior Strength and Conditioning Coach at Middlesex Cricket.

“I think it’s important to expose yourself to as many different environments as you possibly can, If you go out there and figure out different paths, something will fall in your lap and you can run with it. It could take you somewhere where you never thought you would go.”

Dan Towers, U21 Performance Analyst, Blackburn Rovers. U19 Performance Analyst, Iceland National Team (in the International Windows)

BSc in Sports Science (Performance Analysis), 2023

Dan was an academy footballer at Preston Northend from age 6-16. After being told he wasn’t good enough to be a youth team player, he decided to diversify his talents and train in performance analytics, so he could continue working in the game he loves.

“I knew I wanted to be in football. Football was my passion. It was something I wanted to be involved in full-time, but what does that look like?

“I’d check LinkedIn for the analyst roles that people were doing and see what experience they had and what qualifications they had that I didn’t. I’d see the experience they gained and how they’ve gone about it. I checked job descriptions, listened to podcasts and tried to network with people.”

His research led him to study at Salford and then onto pivotal roles such as Lead Performance Analyst and Performance Analyst at The England Amputee Football Association, as well as Assistant Academy Performance Analyst at Manchester United. During his degree, he interned at Oldham Athletic Association Football Club Limited as a First Team Analyst.

In 2023, whilst serving as the Lead Performance Analyst for The England Amputee Football Association, the team won the ‘Nations League’, the first major international tournament for the team in over 20 years.

He is currently the U21’s Performance Analyst at Blackburn Rovers Football Club and the Performance Analyst for the Iceland’s U19 National Team, steering them to historic qualification for the European Championship Finals in 2023, defeating England, the holders at the time.

“I love working at this place, but also you never know the opportunities that you may get in the future.”

Speaking at Alumni Insights Sessions is just one way our alumni can volunteer to support students and give advice on topics such as building employability skills, navigating the job market and managing the transition from university to employment. If you would like to find out more about alumni volunteering, please get in touch at