The Centre for Football Research in Wales

Centre Overview and Mission

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) Centre for Football Research is affiliated with the Welsh Institute of Performance Sciences (WIPS) and is a collaborative partnership between the University of South Wales (Sport and Exercise Research and Innovation Group) and the FAW.

The mission of the Centre is to engage in high quality research and innovation, generate research funding, and to develop research collaboration that supports the FAW in the achievement of the High Performance Strategy. In doing so, the Centre aims to provide research driven solutions that facilitate the development and performance of athletes across Wales and internationally. Further, the multidisciplinary research conducted by the Centre seeks to inform best practice in player welfare, coach education, participation, and health-related factors.

Centre Aims

  1. To facilitate cooperation between the FAW, WIPS, and all universities in Wales to enhance the breadth and scope of research driven insights in sport.
  2. To engage in high quality and innovative research into football across a range of fields, including: coaching, talent identification and development, sports science, performance, player and community health, management and leadership, officials, and the growth of the game.
  3. To identify and foster the means by which the Centre can meet emerging research opportunities with the goal of generating funding for research activities.
  4. To disseminate the knowledge generated by the Centre via seminars, conferences, publications, electronic media, and through the WIPS Research Steering Group.

Selected research projects

There is growing concern that the repetitive impact of heading the ball in football may cause sub-concussive trauma and lead to accelerated cognitive decline/early onset dementia in later-life.

As a consequence, researchers from USW have commenced a programme of research aimed at answering the following questions:

  • to what extent does a history of heading the ball in football effect cognition?
  • to what extent does an acute bout of heading a football affect cognition?;
  • what are the underlying mechanisms that may explain these changes in cognition?

This research has received internal funding from USW.

With the aim of developing a series of resources to support coaches in their attempts to address the psychological pillar of performance in football, the FAW part-funded a KESS PhD project that explored and (re)conceptualised mental toughness in football. This resulted in the construction of a framework for improving player mental toughness through the identification and development of mentally tough behaviours. For more detail, please see the following video.

The FAW has developed an innovative female talent development programme in which regionally selected FAW Girls’ Academy teams are integrated into age-appropriate male licensed Academy competitions.

Unlike the mixed gender approach taken by other National Associations, the FAW have created a unisex structure with the view that such an approach would: increase the amount and level of competition talented female players experience; augment opportunities for holistic player development; and facilitate player progression into the elite, senior levels of the game.

To assess the impact of this approach, through the FAW Centre for Football Research, researchers have undertaken a longitudinal, multidisciplinary, multiple stakeholder evaluation of the programme on person and player development.

To inform best practice in supporting female athletes to successfully return to play following injury, minimising risk of future injury and decrements in performance, through a systematic review of the literature and applied recommendations, through the FAW Centre for Football Research, researchers have produced guidelines to inform applied practice, and individual and organisational support.

Working with the University of Warwick, researchers have completed the first phase of an innovative research project studying communication during live matches.

The purpose of the project was to study communication between performance analysts and the coaching staff during a game. The project looked to identify ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this dialogue, the importance of which is vital for successful in-game adaptations. For more information see this article.

Researchers have explored the impact of role-related stressors on coach well-being and subsequent performance. The research has helped the Centre to understand the demanding nature of coaching and its sustainability. This has resulted in the development of a range of resources and support mechanisms for the coaches undertaking FAW and UEFA endorsed coaching qualifications, as well as for the staff working with the FAW’s intermediate and senior teams. This has resulted in collaboration with UK Coaching. For more information see this journal article.


Head of Centre
Professor Brendan Cropley
Professor of Sports Coaching, University of South Wales
[email protected]

FAW Chief of Football
Dr David Adams
Chief of Football, FAW
[email protected]

Senior Research Assistant
Dr Alan McKay
FAW Centre for Football Research and WIPS Senior Research Assistant
[email protected]

For information about the Centre or for information about projects and potential collaboration, please contact Professor Brendan Cropley or Dr Alan Mckay.


Welsh Institute of Performance Science (WIPS) logo