Sports scientist with a passion for football

Posted 9th June 2010 by Ellie Maybury

Ellie Maybury

Ellie Maybury is an exercise scientist working with female football players, for the Football Association.

I’ve always had a passion for football – when I was young I played it regularly. My goal was to work in football, but I knew this wouldn’t be a career I could just walk in to.

After completing my undergraduate degree in Sports Science and Materials Technology at the University of Birmingham an opportunity arose for me in Holland, working for Nike in their global football apparel department. 

I enjoyed my role at Nike, but I was eager to find a job that was more ‘hands-on’. I found out about The FA Fitness Trainers Award and flew back to the UK to start the course, before returning to Nike. My time back in the UK convinced me that I definitely wanted to explore sport science as a career. I made the decision to return to the UK to start my Masters degree in Exercise Physiology at Loughborough University.

Ellie trainingWhilst on the FA Fitness Trainers Award, I was tutored by Dawn Scott who was Head of Exercise Science for the England female squads at the FA. Dawn opened many doors for me, providing me with opportunities to work with international female players. I did this part-time while studying for my Masters. I will always be grateful to Dawn for providing me with that first stepping stone as there are many challenges facing graduates trying to break into elite level sport. 

My hard work and dedication was recognised by Dawn and the FA and consequently following the completion of my Masters, I took on more work with the FA and this is now my main job: Exercise Scientist with youth female international players. 

I love it! My role is to assess and monitor fitness levels of the U15 England female squad, and implement their training programmes. I also provide support during training and matches, ensuring players prepare and recover properly, and I oversee the player’s nutrition and hydration. I am proud to say that I work with the best female coaches, doctors and physiotherapists in the country which helps me to pick up new skills and to continually improve my knowledge. 

A crucial part of my job is to stay at the forefront of any relevant research. However, research on the female player is limited and this has inspired me to learn more about how females can achieve optimal performance. I have just started my PhD which will focus on the physical considerations and development of the elite female player.  

I have recently started working with the U19 and U20 squads. At the end of the June I am travelling with the U20 squad to La Manga for a training camp in preparation for the U20 World Cup which takes place in Germany this summer.

I am learning and developing my knowledge all the time. I want to continue to work in the female game and do all I can to ensure that the players I work with receive the best sport science support so that they can reach their full potential and achieve optimal performance. 

Ellie is a member of The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES), and is working towards BASES accreditation and the UK Strength and conditioning Association (UKSCA) qualification.


Ruth Wilson:

9th June 2010

Hi Ellie,

Welcome to the UKRC blog. I find your story fascinating - and I am clueless about most sports! I wonder if I would be more involved if there were more women playing at the levels where games are televised...

We are at the start of the World Cup: is there an equivalent for adult women's football? And do you get women sports scientists coaching the men?


9th June 2010

it seems like a lot of major international players are getting serious injuries leading up to this world cup. have you seen any patterns to explain why this might be, or is it all coincindental in your opinion?



11th June 2010

Hi Ellie, Amanda,

I have read that a number of the injuries are the consequence of a more intensive practice and playing regime that leave too little time for recuperation for what is intensive physical activity. Evolutionarily, we may be designed for intense physical activity of short duration punctuated by longer rest periods than sports schedules now appear to allow.

Ellie, I think your more scientific approach to sports can only improve the games we play. The theory and methodology underlying fitness training has become deeper as time has gone on and this is because of the interest and talent of people like yourself. Without people like you, who want to keep abreast of development and who understand both sport and the theory underlying the physiology of sport, fitness training might have taken longer to improve as quickly as it has over the past 25 years.

The fact that more women are playing various sports once limited to men can only be a good thing. And women like yourself being involved in the way you are is essential I think for this to move forward.

As for myself, I was considered to be too small for football and in trying out for baseball, I was hit in the head three times before the coach suggested I might not be cut out for certain sports.

Ruth Wilson (moderator):

12th June 2010

Hi Ellie, Amanda and Larry
There's a fascinating piece of research here stating that football is the number one sport to cause an injury (32 per cent of all sports injuries) with rugby second (13 per cent). This I think is amateur sport.

There's an interesting gender difference: men are over twice as likely (59 per cent) to blame third party involvement for their injury by comparison to women (22 per cent).


Fiona Campbell:

14th June 2010

Hi Ellie,

I have a couple of questions. Did you grow up in a family that loved football or did you just enjoy it at school and your passion for the game grew from there? Secondly I imagine there aren't many women following your career path. How would you encourage other women to follow your example?


14th June 2010

Hi Ruth,

Yes there is an equivalent World Cup for women's football. The next World Cup is taking place in Germany next Summer. See this link for details:

As for women sport scientists working in the men's game, I am not aware of any, but there is an increased number of female physiotehrapists working in the mens game now.


14th June 2010

Hi Fiona,

Thanks for your questions...

In response to your first question, I wouldn't say that I grew up in a family that loved football, although my Dad is a big football fan. I started to enjoy playing football at school and with friends, and following this I decided to join a local club, which my Dad encouraged me to do. I wasn't the best player to grace the field, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

If I was to encourage other women to follow my example, I would advise them to get as much experience as possible working in the female game. There are opportunities to gain experience in grass route clubs and Centres of Excellence with youth players. I have worked at Birmingham City Girls Centre of Excellence for 5 seasons now, and this 'hands-on' experience has been esential in my learning. Additionally, I would encourage them to gain qualifications similar to the ones I have achieved, and to continually up date their skills with further qualifications, workshops, conferences etc. All this with a strong work ethic, and a desire to succeed at what you do should stand those looking to follow a similar career path in good position.


15th June 2010

Do you think that the quality of the sports science in a country impacts on the country's likelihood of success in the World Cup? In other words can a country increase its chances of winning the tournament by investing in sports science? (Frankly I think England needs all the help it can get just now!)

Heather Cassils:

15th June 2010


You inspire me millions..... You ARE the best!

Shel xxx

Debbie Pearce BASES Executive Officer:

17th June 2010

Hi Ellie
As you are a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences I just thought I would pop the website on here
There is information on Sports and Exercise Science, a careers guide, a course finder, a consultant finder, vacancies, studentships and much more. BASES also has an Undergraduate Endorsement Scheme (BUES)which may help prospective students in choosing a course.
Kind regards
Debbie Pearce
BASES Executive Officer


21st June 2010

Hi Ellie,

Your job sounds fantastic! Could you tell me a bit more about your role as an Excercise Scientist? And the factors that can affect a players performance?

Thanks Danielle


23rd June 2010

Hi Ellie,

I have to say, I think your job sound amazing! I really wish I had followed my passion for sport and made a career out of it. As a young girl I absolutely loved football. I have 3 brothers and they obviously influenced our game playing at home so most of my time was spent kicking a football with them! However, I loved lots of sports and was encouraged into tennis rather than football when i had to make a decision at 11 to concentrate on one or the other. I chose tennis mainly because there appeared to be more opportunities for girls than there were for females. At 18 I went on a tennis scholorship to a University in Florida, where i was also offered a football scholorship. This whole experience really opened my eyes as to how much more focus ladies football (soccer!!!) gets in the USA. Although 'soccer' in the USA isn't their most popular sport, womens soccer appeared to be almost as popular as the mens sport. This was and obviously still is so different to the UK. There was also a lot more money, equipment, knowledge and development at University level (their sports students often take this route to get to International level).
This is now 10 years ago... I was wondering if the UK look at the USA as leaders in sports development and training? Do you think the UK does enough to encourage girls to get into sport AND develop their education (I know people that have dropped their sport because the career advise is obvsiouly to focus on their career)
Do you think we will ever close the gap on discrimination of women playing football? I know some matches are now televised, but I also know that they get a lot of negative press from men who still think it should be a male sport! (I have spent SO many hours arguing this point!!!)
Also (sorry lots of questions!) I was just interested... how different is the training programme for women compared to the mens programme?
Thanks, Pollyanna

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