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Case Studies: Bournemouth University


The Objectives

  • Highlighting the partnership between Bournemouth University & AFC Bournemouth to prospective and current students
  • Making an impact in the local community
  • Support the womens & girls’ teams
  • Student and staff engagement
  • Increase the reputation of both Bournemouth University and AFCB internationally, including among prospective international students

Bournemouth University (BU) and AFC Bournemouth forged a strategic partnership in 2013, driven by a shared commitment to mutual growth and community enrichment. Over the past decade, this collaboration has evolved into a dynamic alliance that not only serves the interests of the club and the university but extends its positive impact to students, staff, supporters, and the local community.

Now, over ten years into the partnership, AFC Bournemouth and BU remain dedicated to ensuring that all stakeholders reap the benefits. One noteworthy development is BU's deliberate outreach to international students with the international reputation of the football club an attractive factor in the region. This concerted effort aligns with BU's broader objective to make the partnership a showcase of its outstanding international student community.

As BU looks towards the future, the partnership with AFC Bournemouth stands as a beacon of successful collaboration, embodying the potential for universities and sports clubs to create lasting positive impacts on education, sports, and the broader community.

The Solutions 

  • Principal Partner of AFC Bournemouth's womens & girls’ teams
  • Official Higher Education partner of AFC Bournemouth
  • Work placements for students
  • Official Partner of the Community Sports Trust and collaborations through Junior Cherries
  • Matchday experiences and hands-on football coaching for students
  • Events to showcase the partnership

BU proudly serves as the Principal Partner of AFC Bournemouth's womens and girls' teams, prominently featuring its logo on the front of the teams’ matchday shirts and training tops. With a steadfast commitment spanning over a decade, BU's support has played a pivotal role in nurturing the growth of AFC Bournemouth's women's and girls' teams.

The collaboration goes beyond the field, as AFC Bournemouth extends coaching opportunities to both BU's men's and women's football teams, fostering valuable engagement with the student community. This hands-on approach not only enriches the sporting experience but also strengthens the bonds between the university and the club.

Aligned with BU's mission to actively involve students in the partnership, AFC Bournemouth and BU have diligently crafted diverse work placement opportunities across various departments, spanning from media to physio- and sports therapy. The collaborative effort also extends to unique student experiences, such as journalism students regularly attending press conferences with players and managers, along with opportunities to provide commentary on non-first team games.

A key focus of the partnership is the elevation of BU's international student intake. The annual 'BU Big Match,' sponsored by BU during a home league game, takes centre stage in achieving this objective. Notably, last year's match was themed around international students, where BU invited 10 students to partake in the Premier League matchday experience. Capturing the essence of the partnership, AFC Bournemouth and BU created compelling content showcased to fans attending the game, further amplifying the global appeal of the collaboration.

The BU Big Match is an annual event in the fixture list to promote the partnership to supporters and showcase the benefits of partnership working.

In essence, the BU and AFC Bournemouth partnership transcends traditional sponsorships, embodying a multi-layered approach that not only champions women's football but also enriches student experiences, creates meaningful work opportunities, and fosters a global perspective among BU students.

The Outcome

  • Growth of the womens and girls’ teams – women’s team growing with increased international transfers and team pushing for promotion
  • Ten work placement students across all departments
  • International brand recognition
  • Coaching offered by first-team AFC Bournemouth staff 
  • Record breaking numbers attending AFC Bournemouth women’s matches 

The partnership between BU and AFC Bournemouth has gained international recognition, with BU being acknowledged as one of the club's top commercial partners. In the Premier League 22/23 brand recognition survey, BU secured the second-highest recognition among AFC Bournemouth partners. The influx of international players at AFC Bournemouth contributes to the club's expanding global fanbase, enhancing BU's international visibility and allowing for further campaigns aimed at new and prospective international students.

The women's team is on a growth trajectory, actively pursuing promotion in the 23/24 season. The introduction of a new training ground will provide enhanced facilities, fostering the team's development. In November, we witnessed a record attendance at Vitality Stadium, with 6,805 fans turning up to support the women’s team in the National League clash against Portishead.

AFC Bournemouth and BU’s commitment to women's football extends to the youth level, with six teams now representing the club. The next women’s game to be hosted at the Vitality Stadium will also be designated a BU Big Match, a chance to showcase the partnership and BU’s support for women and girls’ football.

Additionally, the partnership provides numerous opportunities for engagement. Currently, over ten full-time placement students are gaining valuable experience at the club across various departments, including matchday operations, the women's team, and sports science. This marks a significant increase in opportunities for BU students to actively participate in the club's operations.

Campaign: In conversation with AFC Bournemouth 

We recently held a Q&A event at Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus with first-team players Ryan Christie, Marcos Senesi and Gemma McGuinness as well as women’s team manager Steve Cuss and player liaison officer Steve Fletcher.

BU hosted a panel in front of 130 students and staff where players and staff answered questions from students regarding their move to Bournemouth, adapting to change, and having resilience. This was a great event and AFC Bournemouth gave insight to international students who recently moved to the area on how to adapt to life on the south coast. 

Participation feedback

“It’s not every day you get the chance to interview Premier League footballers and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. The event topic of adapting to change is one that will hit home to many including myself so to be able to ask footballers about their experience moving to Bournemouth was a real privilege. All the players were very polite and willing to discuss their differing experiences moving to the south coast.”

BU feedback

“We were so grateful to the AFC Bournemouth players and staff for taking time to come and welcome and speak to new students, as well as staff and members of the BU community. It was great to hear insights from them about how they adapt to change, often having to move club or settle in a new area with very quick notice, and I know that our community greatly valued hearing their experiences. BU students gained valuable experience interviewing the players and it was a great way to tangibly show the benefits of the partnership for the BU community.”

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