The only impossible journey is the one you never begin

walk way stretching into the distanceAt the Marjon Staff and Student Awards 2020, final year BA (Hons) Football Development and Coaching student, Anthony Goss, received the award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student.

We asked Anthony to write about his journey through university…

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin”.

When I was asked to write a blog about my time and experience at Marjon, this quote definitely resonated with me. In order to understand the journey, you need to have an appreciation of how it started.

In the summer of 2017 and at 26 years old, I was working for a roofing company. I was football coaching on the side and one day it hit me. If I wanted a full-time job in the football industry, I either needed to be an ex professional footballer, which I’m definitely not, or have a university degree. Coincidentally, I saw on Twitter that Marjon were advertising for a degree about football, more specifically football development and coaching.

I applied thinking almost nothing of it, I definitely didn’t have the right grades looking back at my school record. After applying directly to Marjon I heard back on the Friday afternoon before the start of induction week. An unconditional offer. I don’t know what my old PE teacher wrote for my reference, but it appeared to have worked. Over the space of three days I had to go from full-time employment to becoming a mature student.

At the start I had serious doubts, like pretty much every student has. Have I done the right thing? What if I suck at this? You aren’t that clever Anthony, how are you going get through uni, let alone even graduate?

As I grew into the first year, it dawned on me that despite some conflicts I was experiencing elsewhere in my personal life, I had made the right decision. I was really enjoying my time at Marjon. This helped provide me with a focus I had not experienced before. This was helping me learn and take in new information in lectures, but also helped me embrace and broaden my horizons in coaching, as well as in and other fields in the football industry. I was becoming a more driven and determined person.

I still maintain to this day that I’m not that clever. Actually, I know that what I have achieved has come from hard work, planning ahead, reading a lot, asking questions and applying myself in something that I truly enjoy. Along with this, going to university presented a number of opportunities which almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if I had listened to my earlier self-doubts.

I did the European Computer Driving Licence Level 2 IT course for free and only paid for the exams, an offer exclusive to Marjon students. I managed to secure a place on the Football Association’s B License coaching course and through the university, I was funded for this. I switched from working at Plymouth Argyle’s Centre of Excellence in Torbay and Exeter, to coaching at the Independent Football Academy (IFA). I only become aware of the IFA through one of my lecturers, Aaron Cusack, who happens to be the head coach. He was able to provide a reference for me.

Looking back at it, applying myself in the first and second year and making the most of the opportunities presented to me, definitely put me in a good position to take on the third year. I don’t want to downplay it, but the dreaded honours project, which a lot of people seem to be scared of, was something I took on freely and embraced. I feel the only way I was able to look at my dissertation like this, was because of the journey I had been on up to that point. Even with coronavirus throwing a massive spanner in the works for my dissertation and other modules, I managed to knuckle down and carry on like before.

Adapting where needed and working hard again resulted in getting very good grades in the midst of my third year. I ended up finishing my university degree on the May 27, 2020, probably having worked harder on the final few modules than anything I had worked on before in my life.

It was truly humbling and soon after my final submission, I was nominated for and end up winning the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award in June. I never thought I could be capable of winning anything like this.

When I started university, I just wanted to graduate with a half decent grade. Now as I’m waiting for the official final grade, I’m fairly confident in my knowledge that I have achieved a 1st class honours degree. All of which will allow me to continue this academic journey I have enjoyed so much. What’s next? A master’s degree at Marjon in September.

Like I have alluded to before, I don’t believe that I got to this position because of talent or because I’m smart. I have worked harder on my assignments than on any building site I worked on. In the three years at Marjon, I have probably spent more time planning, reading, researching, and writing than I ever did at secondary school. From a determined attitude I have developed, managed to appropriately apply this effort to get to where I am today, and the best thing for me personally, is that it only feels as if it has just started.

From what seemed like an impossible journey for so many reasons back in 2017 has resulted in me being asked to write my first ever blog about my university experience. I will be forever grateful to Marjon for showing me that anything is possible, and that success is always just around the corner.

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