Rachel Dunbar from the Premier League speaks ahead of #RYG17
Kick It Out is hosting its seventh annual Raise Your Game national conference on Monday 24 April at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, providing a unique opportunity for individuals looking to break into the football industry.
Supported by the Premier League, the mentoring event will welcome over 300 mentees to the Woolwich Suite as they seek advice from experienced mentors to learn more about careers within the sport.
Ahead of the conference, Charlie MacKinnon spoke to Rachel Dunbar, Head of Youth Operations at the Premier League, about her extensive career in football and sport and how she plans to help mentees in attendance.
By Charlie MacKinnon
Rachel has had an illustrious career in the sporting industry, working for a number of high profile organisations and clubs, and will look to help and guide the next generation of aspiring mentees looking to work their way into the game.
“I’ve not been involved in the event before, but I think just being able to help people that haven’t even got into the industry yet will be great. It’s quite nice to be able to give something back. I’ve been fortunate with the people I’ve worked with that have helped me along my way.”
She began her career in 2001, working at media agencies after leaving school. After visiting a recruitment consultancy, she was advised to go for an interview at The FA but was unsuccessful before trying again six months later when she was hired as a marketing assistant at The FA.
“I was lucky enough to have several opportunities at The FA. I had five years there when England were on the road, and there were cup finals at the Millennium Stadium. I was involved in the matchday operations on that side – making sure the stadium was ready for the teams, making sure matches operated as they should’ve done.”
Rachel then moved on to working full-time for the Premier League, before a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose.
“A contact from The FA got in touch with me; she knew the director of sport at London 2012 and they were looking for someone to manage the football competition.
“I went along and spent four years of my life planning the 2012 Olympics and Olympic football. It was the most pressurised, time-consuming job I’ve ever had, but I’d 100 percent do it again.”
After her efforts towards London 2012, she became Assistant Club Secretary at Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, and stayed in that role for two years before returning to the Premier League in 2014. In January 2017, she was promoted to Head of Youth Operations.
Ahead of next week’s Raise Your Game event, she is relishing the opportunity to help anyone wanting to make their way into the industry, and told us her advice for anyone looking to do so.
“It’s difficult to try and move into the industry so I’m just going to try and help if I can, with contacts, encouragement and information about what the roles are out there. I think they should be open as to what it is they want to move to in the industry.
“People want to be involved in what they see on TV, what they hear on the radio or see in the paper, they don’t necessarily think in detail about everything behind that. So, where they can start and what their pathway could potentially be to get to what they see on TV?
“You may think, I really want to be the player liaison officer at a Premier League club, and you’re applying for those roles because you think you’ve got the skill set or personality, or the knowledge of the team.
“You’re maybe getting rejected and not getting an interview. But actually, if you looked at being player liaison for the academy for example, or if you look to start doing some volunteering somewhere, it might set you on your way.
“Where do you want to be? What’s your ultimate role within sport? Let’s start to look at a route that you could potentially take to get there, to start getting those skills, within the sport you want to go into – that will lead you to the role.”