OVER the past number of years, numerous local students have undertaken work experience at Inver Park to support their education. In this week’s edition of ‘Why I Love Larne FC’, we speak to Dean Houston who describes the benefits of work experience at Inver Park and why he has fallen in love with the Inver Reds.
If you or someone you know is due to take part in a placement year or period of work experience and would enjoy the challenge of working in a fast-paced sporting environment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s your name and what is your role at Larne Football Club?
My name is Dean Houston and I am on my university placement at Larne Football Club as a Marketing Assistant.
What do you do within your role on a daily basis at the club?
My role as a Marketing Assistant involves working with Chris and Ross, the other members of the team. Daily, we are responsible for the creative content that goes out on social media. Whilst we run and manage the social media content, it’s the media volunteers who are able to bring our ideas to life, whether that be photos, graphics, videos or whatever else we ask them for the answer is never “no”, so a lot of the credit is must go to them!
Coming up with new ideas is a big part of my role, whether that be for new content or creative ways of announcing new transfers, there’s always something to think about! As a team, we work closely with Niall, the General Manager of the club. We meet with Niall regularly to discuss through our ideas and see how we can implement them and take them forward.
Every week is different in my role; however, my individual duty is to work with our match and ball sponsors. This involves emailing sponsors in advance to discuss their package such as the matchday programme advert and when it is closer to matchday, I am keeping them updated with times and coordinating their PR amongst other things.
With matchdays being different, what would you do for a home game at Inver Park?
Matchdays are always busy at Inver Park! For a typical 3pm kick-off, I am usually down at Inver Park for around 12:30pm. From then on, it’s usually all go! I make sure that I am always on hand to meet the sponsors when they arrive at Inver Park and ensure that they are taken to their reserved booth in the 1889 Club. At the pre-arranged time, I will take the sponsors down to pitch side to get their photo with our Chairman, Gareth Clements.
On matchdays, I also look after the Positive Influences Programme. This is a programme where we pick a couple of different schools each week and give them two free tickets which are then distributed to the children that the school feels deserve them or have earned them through their effort levels that week. The children and their parents will meet me at the club offices, where I will take them down pitch side area for a photo with a couple of players for our social media channels.
At half-time, I am part of the team which co-ordinates entertainment on the pitch for supporters to enjoy, making sure that it runs smoothly and within the tight time limit.
Finally, when the game ends, we make sure that all of the necessary photos are taken for social media content, including Man of the Match and the Shirt Swap winners’ photo.
How did you get involved with Larne Football Club?
When I was younger, I played for Larne Youth for several years. During this time, I went to a lot of games at Inver Park with my team-mates after playing our games earlier that morning. Once I woke up and realised that I was never going to make it as a footballer, I focused on school and went on to university to study Business Studies.
The course I am currently doing included a placement year and I think I must have applied for around 30 different placement opportunities with no luck whatsoever. With time running out and being good friends with Chris, I got in contact with him and asked if there were any opportunities available to do my placement at the club. I went down to Inver Park and spoke to Chris about the role and started in July 2019. Since then, I haven’t looked back. I have been lucky to be able to gain so much experience during my time at the club so far and I will always be grateful of the opportunity.
Do you have another job outside of Larne FC? If so, what are they and what do they involve?
Yes, I have a part-time job at Circle K in Larne as a Sales Assistant. My role at Circle K involves serving and assisting customers with whatever they need, stocking out items from the store making sure that the shelves are full and other general roles such as cleaning and tidying up the store.
I am also still a full-time student at the Magee Campus of Ulster University. In September, I will be starting my final year of my Business Studies with Marketing course and I feel like my time at the club will serve me well for this period as I have a lot of real life experience that I will be able to use in my work whilst others don’t have that.
Do you find it easy to manage your other commitments along with your role at club, how do you do it?
It can be a challenge at times. I work 16 hours at Circle K and typically work these hours on a Thursday and Sunday every week. This means that if we have a home game, I work all seven days of the week between my placement hours and part-time job, so I definitely enjoy away games! At times this can be difficult, but I believe that if I put the hard work in now it will pay off in the future.
Luckily, my part-time employers have been easy to work with and allowed me to work the set days every week, making it easier to get a day off where possible.
Although, I have been busy since starting my placement, the experience has been very enjoyable. From Chris and Ross to Niall and the players, everyone at the club is easy to work with which I feel is important to getting the most out of my opportunity.
And finally, why do you love the club and what motivates you to carry out your role at Larne Football Club?
I love football, anyone who knows me can tell you that! It is great to see what Kenny has been able to put into the club and bring back that sense of excitement and anticipation around the town. Everyone in Larne is now thinking of the future and the chance to win titles, cups and qualify for Europe, something that if you had mentioned just a few years ago you would have been laughed at.
I’ve been at Larne games when I was younger when there was barely anyone there and you just went for something to do on a Saturday afternoon, but now seeing thousands come to Inver Park week in week out you can see how much the club means to the community and how passionate they are about it. Being able to work in all of this and help to build and promote the club further is what motivates me and is why I love Larne FC.