La Trobe PhD student kicking goals in sports science

A member of the La Trobe University Soccer Club has played a key role in Melbourne City FC’s historic fourth Westfield W-League title.

Bradley Thoseby, a PhD student studying Sport Science at La Trobe University, initially joined Melbourne City to work with the club’s Youth Academy before taking over as Head of Sports Science for the W-League team midway through the 2019/20 season.

Melbourne City has proven to be the powerhouse team in the Australia’s premier women’s football competition in recent years. Prior to this season, City had won three of the last four W-League Championship titles and after an undefeated season in 2019/20 which saw them claim the regular season Premiers Plate, City capped off a dominant season with a 1-0 win against Sydney FC in last month’s Grand Final.

Much of City’s W-League success this season has been accredited to its sports science department headed by Thoseby, which was lauded for its ability to keep the team’s injury list small and key players on the pitch.

Specifically, Thoseby’s role with the W-League team focuses on the strength, conditioning and overall health of the athletes to ensure they are in the best possible shape come match day.

“With me coming in halfway through the season, the girls were so welcoming and immediately bought into what I was doing, which made the transition seamless,” Thoseby said.

“To be a small part of a team who went on to win and remain undefeated was very special.

“Trophies, at any level of sport, are hard to come by, so to win two in one season is such a great achievement for everyone involved.”

Thoseby also continues to work with City’s Youth Academy; a role which he says brings a different set of challenges.

“There is a big focus on athlete development in the academy space which requires a lot of guidance and education to hopefully teach the players how to be professional athletes,” Thoseby said.

“This is in comparison to the W-League, in which a large majority of our players are international level athletes who have a vast amount of experience so there is a greater focus on performance rather than development.”

Alongside his practical commitments with the club’s athletes, Thoseby is also completing his PhD with Melbourne City, which is focused on the assessment of peak match intensities within professional football to better inform training practices.

Thoseby says he had always aspired to work in professional sport and completing his PhD with La Trobe’s industry partner in Melbourne City provided him the best opportunity to do so.

“As with most fields, PhD’s are becoming more and more necessary in order to get to the highest level,” Thoseby said.

“The opportunity to complete my PhD through Melbourne City has allowed me to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical setting in order to better develop athletes.

“The most rewarding thing has been the amount of growth I have undergone during my candidature, both from a personal point of view and from a knowledge and skillset point of view. Hopefully my research can have some small impact on athlete performance at a professional level, while also helping to further our knowledge in athletic performance.”

When he isn’t working with professional football players or completing his PhD, Thoseby spends his spare time making his own mark on the pitch as a member of the La Trobe University Soccer Club.

Not only has he proved to be a versatile player capable of performing in a range of positions for the men’s first team, Thoseby has provided his expertise in athlete preparation by contributing to the club’s strength and conditioning program.

La Trobe University and the Melbourne City FC have been proud partners since the Club’s inception in 2009. Through this ten-year partnership, La Trobe University students receive access to unique placement and learning opportunities.

As a result of this strong relationship, over 30% of Melbourne City's employees are La Trobe University alumni.

For more information on La Trobe’s sport industry partnerships, head to the La Trobe Sport website.