Over the summer, UCFB students have been gaining valuable work experience at football clubs across the US as part of a multi-year partnership with the USL, working in a range of areas including marketing, media, coaching and events.

We spoke with Vinny Ray, a BA (Hons) Multimedia Sports Journalism student at UCFB Etihad Campus, about the highlights from his time at Albion Hurricanes in Houston, Texas where he worked for three months with the media team with fellow student Dan Wiseman…

Tell us about your role at Albion Hurricanes. What were your responsibilities and day to day routine?

We had multiple roles at the Royals, which is why it was such a valuable experience. On a day to day basis, we would run the social media accounts, take pictures of training, in addition to editing and creating content to preview matches. On matchdays, we looked after matchday administration and also performed the roles of photographer, commentators for the stream, statisticians, in addition to live-tweeting the games.

Tell us about Albion Hurricanes’ season. How did it go and how did the club develop over the campaign?

We worked with the two AHFC Royals’ sides; the WPSL women’s side, and the USL 2 men’s side. The women kicked off the season very well, whereas the men had a very slow start to their season. The women were very successful, making it to a playoff game in Dalla. The men had fantastic form towards the end of the season, unbeaten in seven games winning five of them. The club’s social media presence (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) has grown massively over the season. The Royals’ Twitter following has increased by fifty percent, their Instagram almost doubling.

Tell us about the highlights and most memorable things about the placement for you.

Team spirit. We had a hashtag the whole of the time that we were there: the #RoyalFamily. It really did feel like a family, and the players included Dan Wiseman and me throughout our time at the club. The most memorable moments were the wins. The men’s team managed to fin five games out of the final seven- the team spirit was incredible. The women had a fantastic season throughout. We felt like part of the team.

What skills have you been able to develop and enhance in the role?

Due to the vast amount of responsibilities we had at the club, we developed many existing skills, and quickly picked up new ones: photography, editing videos and graphics, completing match day admin, and tweeting and commentating on live games.

How do you think the role can benefit your future career? Has it been valuable for networking and building contacts for example?

My time at the Royals provided a fantastic opportunity for networking and building contacts around the soccer community of Houston and throughout the Mid South Division. My experience has provided me with an opportunity to develop new skills that I can apply to any marketing or social media roles in the near future.

What do you make of the partnership between UCFB and the USL? How is it unique and special, and what does it offer to students?

The partnership offers students a rare and valuable experience to learn and work with football clubs in a different country, increasing students’ confidence and their skillsets.

How is soccer developing and growing in the US? Can it ever compete with the well-established traditional sports like NFL, basketball and baseball?

At this stage, it will take generations for soccer to grow to be as big as it is currently in Europe, and to compete with the more traditional American sports. However, the sport is moving in the right direction with fans getting excited over big clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Liverpool, travelling across the US for pre-season tours. Which can be seen by the frequency of the sell-out stadiums whilst the clubs are in the US.