@UC_RISE Football PhD Graduations


Yesterday evening (7 April), four PhDs were conferred in the University of Canberra’s Faculty of Health graduation ceremony.

All four were students in UCRISE. Three of the students, Jocelyn Mara, Adam Hewitt and Nehad Makhadmeh researched football performance. All three added to the research literature on women’s football.


Jocelyn thesis was titled The physical and physiological characteristics of elite female soccer players. (There is more information about Jocelyn’s work here.)

Adam Hewitt’s thesis was Performance analysis in soccer: applications of player tracking technology. (There is some information about Adam’s work here and his thesis here.)


Nehad was unable to attend the ceremony. She was back in her home city of Al ramtha in Jordan. Her thesis was Talent identification and development in women’s football: integrating Australian insights in Jordan. (There is more information about Nehad’s work here.)


One of my hopes for the Institute of Sport Studies (the predecessor of UCRISE) was that it would provide opportunities to address research in women’s sport. I was delighted that last night’s ceremony was able to support those hopes.

Two of the three PhDs were supervised by Dr Kate Pumpa and the Director of UCRISE, Professor Kevin Thompson.

The fourth PhD conferred was for Anthony Walker’s thesis Maximising the safety and performance of urban firefighters working in heat. Anthony was supervised by Dr Ben Rattray.

Nehad @UCRISE: a PhD Journey linking Al ramtha and Gungahlin

NM-1Nehad Makhadmeh is presenting her final PhD seminar to her colleagues in UCRISE at the University of Canberra today.

Her presentation will report on her four-year journey as a student in Canberra and Jordan at a time of tumultuous change in her home city of Al ramtha.

It is a story that shares her experiences of hot days in three Al ramtha schools and cold winter nights as a volunteer coach in Gungahlin, Canberra.

There is a copy of here presentation here.

Nehad is in the process of responding to the excellent advice given to her by her three external examiners.

Nehad and her family are returning to Al ramtha in November. Her home is a short distance from the Syrian border. During her research for her PhD, her city’s population has trebled through the influx of refugees. Nehad’s family, and her husband, Khaled’s family have opened their homes to refugee families and there are now five families living together.

Nehad and Professor Kevin Thompson, UCRISE.
Nehad and Professor Kevin Thompson, UCRISE.

Nehad, Al ramtha and Canberra


I have been supervising PhD research for two decades.

My journey started in 1994 with Gareth Potter at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff.

Last week, one of my more recent PhD students, Nehad Makhadmeh, submitted her thesis for examination. The title of her thesis is Talent Identification and Development in Women’s Football: Integrating Australian Insights in Jordan.

During her four years at the University of Canberra, Nehad researched girls’ and women’s football in Canberra and her home city of Al ramtha in Jordan.

Her overall aim is to contribute to the flourishing of football in Al ramtha at a time of immense demographic and economic change there in the wake of conflict in nearby Syria.

It has been a remarkable privilege to be Nehad’s supervisor. I have learned a great deal about Arab societies as we have debated the relevance of Australian models of talent identification and development.


Nehad’s Abstract

This thesis investigates the possibilities for sustainable girls’ and women’s participation in football in Jordan.  These possibilities are explored with insights gained from fieldwork in two cultural contexts: Al ramtha, Jordan and Canberra, Australia.

The research reported here uses a mixed methods approach to data collection about talent and identification systems. It combines desk study, semi-structured interviews with teachers, coaches and administrators and participant observation in teaching and coaching contexts. There were two phases in the research process. Phase 1 explored talent identification and development pathways in women’s football and involved preliminary fieldwork in Canberra and Al ramtha. Phase 2 investigated the teaching of football in two Jordanian schools with the context of the King Abdullah II Award for Physical Fitness. This phase included fieldwork in Canberra with my participation as a volunteer coach in a community football club.

The thesis concludes with a discussion of sustainable talent identification and development in women’s football in Jordan and considers opportunities to integrate insights gained from women’s football in Australia.

Professional Stranger

One of the topics Nehad and I discussed was her ability to be a professional stranger in her research. As her work developed she tried to see the strange as familiar in Canberra and the familiar as strange in Al ramtha. In Canberra, she was fortunate to meet a key informant who helped with the ‘familiarity’ of the structure and practice of football. In Al ramtha, she negotiated her way sensitively through local and national networks and organisations.

She achieved all this as an English as a second language speaker. Twenty years apart, her research took me back to Gareth’s research in performance analysis. He came from a Welsh speaking household in which English was also a second language.


Photo Credits

Both photographs by Nehad Makhadmeh, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.