A student has followed in his parents’ footsteps by graduating from Edge Hill University.

Kyle Shelford from Orrell, Wigan, secured a 2:1 in Sports Development and Management, having also played rugby league semi-professionally for Championship clubs, Swinton Lions and Workington Town, during his studies.

Kyle’s mother, Lavern, received a BEd (Hons) in Primary Education while his father secured a BA (Hons) and PGCE before becoming a Secondary IT Teacher.

A former England academy captain, the 22-year-old Rochdale Hornets forward combines his sport with a client manager role at The Sports Office, an athlete management and performance company which aids sporting professionals.

“The company provides an athlete management system to teams from various sports”, said Kyle. “I meet coaches, medics, strength and conditioning staff, and help them use the system to benefit themselves and their players.”

An interview and presentation to senior management secured the position for Kyle, having utilised a contact through rugby league to earn a potential opening.

“The role can sometimes clash with training, but apart from that it been a relatively smooth transition – they are understanding if I have commitments.”

Academia is not the only path down which Kyle followed in his father’s footsteps. Born in New Zealand, Adrian won three Challenge Cups with Wigan – with whom Kyle came up through their youth set-up, making one senior appearance for the Warriors in 2016.

The family rugby connection also extends across codes, cousin Wayne having won the World Cup with, and later captained, the All Blacks in the late 1980s.

A former pupil of St Peters RC High School and Winstanley College, Kyle credits his family with instilling a work ethic, and to keep as many options open as possible. He said:

“They have always been supportive and make me realise rugby league is not forever, that you have to have other strings to your bow. Obviously Mum and Dad studied here, so I thought it’d be cool to go, too, but our family friend, Lionel Jackson, was also a massive influence. My open day visit was also a big factor.”

He credits academics Professor Andy Smith and Dr David Haycock with providing support and encouragement.

“I remember doing a presentation I was stressing out because I’d had to miss a lot of the module content due to training. Once I’d finished, Andy, who was one of the assessors, gave me words of assurance, and it made me realise that I was doing okay and not to put too much pressure on myself.

“Another highlight was the ongoing support David showed me. He was always understanding if I had rugby commitments, but he’d also make himself available and spend significant time helping me as my dissertation supervisor, which stands out.”

Despite the ongoing improvements and modifications at Edge Hill, Kyle was impressed at how the campus continued to retain its feeling of inclusiveness, providing a homely feel not always found elsewhere.

“I like the environment here. Every year there has been new developments, it’s all on one campus and everyone has always been friendly. On my last day a lady working in the cafeteria said some kind words to me and I thought she didn’t have to do that. But I guess it just shows the type of people that are at EHU.”

Longer term Kyle is keen to learn all he can about his industry, although he does have ideas about future opportunities he would like to pursue, as well as earning a full-time professional rugby league contract.

“I’m happy and grateful to be in the job I’m in, I really want to make a mark. Me and my mate are also big on owning our own business, so we are aiming to start making t-shirts and hats. We want to call it RYR (Remember Your Roots) where our goal is to encourage people to be happier in their own skin and be true to themselves; to move away from comparing themselves to others and feel great about what they can bring to the table.”

Find out more about studying Sports Development and Management at Edge Hill University by visiting the course page.