Two Robert Gordon University (RGU) students are spending the autumn travelling with Aberdeen FC during their European campaign, thanks to very lucky placement timing.
Having already joined the team on their trips to Sweden and Germany, the pair are preparing to board the team plane to Greece next month.
Dylan Banfield and Kerr Innes are both on placement with the Pittodrie club as part of their BSc (Hons) Applied Sports and Exercise programme.
Fortunately for them, it coincides with the Dons’ European run which has already seen them visit Gothenburg and Frankfurt, with Salonika and Helsinki still to come.
Dylan travelled with the first team for their opening European Conference League match against Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany a fortnight ago.
Meanwhile Kerr was in Sweden for the Europa League qualifier against BK Häcken in August and will be travelling to Greece for the match against PAOK.
Aberdeen students analysing opponents across Europe
As well as a unique front row seat at the most important matches, the students have been given important roles with the team.
They are carrying out opposition analysis and filming matches alongside the club’s performance analysis team, Jordi and Marta Rams.
Lifelong fan Kerr was a performance analysist intern with Aberdeen last season.
He said: “Given the progress I made during the 2022/23 season, I was offered the opportunity to return to the club this season.
“But my role now has more first team responsibilities. Including being there on matchdays and helping to build pre-match opposition reports, as well as continuing my academy responsibilities.
“Getting the chance to travel to Sweden with the first team for the Häcken match was an exciting opportunity, given the magnitude of the competition and what it meant for the club.
“The whole experience was incredible, especially as a lifelong Aberdeen fan.
“It’s opportunities like that which make me want to work harder and continue pursuing this career path.”
Following Aberdeen FC from Dingwall to Frankfurt
Dylan is also in his second season at Pittodrie.
He said: “This season so far I’ve travelled home and away with the first team to work on matches such as Ross County, Hearts, Rangers, and my favourite so far, Frankfurt.
“With each matchday experience being so different, I’ve gained multiple transferable skills, such as communication and time management. Due to different stadiums’ requirements, different set-ups are needed due to available equipment provided.
“The internship has been so worthwhile, I couldn’t recommend it more.”
Barry Robson’s side were in action on Thursday when they played host to HJK Helsinki at Pittodrie.
As part of the Applied Sports and Exercise course, third year students have a six-week placement with a range of organisations including NHS Grampian, Active Aberdeenshire and other sports clubs. A four-week placement takes place in year two of the programme.
An ‘authentic learning experience’
Course leader Patrick Maugham said: “A key aim of our degree is to create industry-ready students. Relationships with organisations such as Aberdeen Football Club significantly enhances our ability to do this.
“Throughout the course, students are provided with authentic learning experiences. This gives them access to high-level practitioners in the field of performance analysis and sport science.
“Both Dylan and Kerr have shown high levels of initiative since they joined the course. It’s pleasing to see them continue to develop their skills and ability to apply these in a practical setting.
“Undoubtedly these experiences of supporting the club’s performance analysis department, both domestically and in Europe, will provide significant development opportunities for both students.”