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Andy Martin

New Zealand Professor Gives Lessons in Success from the All Blacks

Professor Andy Martin doesn’t just pass on knowledge to his students – he develops “confident people who can thrive anywhere”.

The award-winning professor of sport management and physical education believes work-integrated learning experiences give his students a competitive edge, and he uses lessons learned from the All Blacks rugby team to encourage them to aim high.

Professor Andy Martin draws on lessons from New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team to support his students to become high-performers in the competitive global sports industry. 

Andy is a professor in the School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition at Massey University in Palmerston North, in New Zealand’s North Island. He’s also co-author of Legends in Black, a best-selling book about why the All Blacks win.

The book reveals the All Blacks keep winning because of the fear that losing would let down the generations of players who came before them.

“I set big expectations with my students right from the start. I tell them that they have a legacy of students before them who have done great things. Just like the All Blacks, my students rise to the challenge,” he says.

“I love being an educator and see myself more as a coach than a teacher, providing a catalyst for my students’ success.”

Andy’s graduates have gone on to great success in national sport development roles and the global sports industry. They have coached sports teams at all levels, managed venues at the London and Rio Olympics, run national and international sports events, and been responsible for big-budget marketing and sponsorship programmes.

Others have forged exciting careers in industries outside sport, using the abilities they developed while studying with Andy to become leaders and problem-solvers in their chosen fields.

For Andy, teaching isn’t just about passing on knowledge.

“I’m not just teaching my students the skills they need to get jobs. I want them to be good communicators and great leaders, and to develop self-belief, self-awareness and self-management,” he says.

“My aim is to develop confident people who can thrive anywhere.”

Andy is one of New Zealand’s top teachers, winning a national tertiary teaching award for ‘sustained excellence’ in 2018.

He is also a passionate advocate for one of the most notable features of New Zealand’s education system: combining theoretical knowledge with hands-on, practical learning.

Andy has been coordinating Massey’s work-based experiential learning programme for sports management students for the past 20 years. Bachelor of Sport and Exercise and Bachelor of Sport Management students, for example, spend at least 200 hours gaining practical experience in the workplace.

Students are able to put what they’ve learned in the classroom into practice, gaining real-world experience and making valuable industry connections.

Current students on placements have been doing anything from supervising major rugby matches to coaching a volleyball team to running a basketball programme for hundreds of secondary school children.

One student who aspires to be an international coach is already coaching athletes who have won medals at the world level.

Andy currently has students on placement in Australia, Vietnam, France, Switzerland, Canada and the US as well as in New Zealand.

“Work-integrated learning experiences allow young people to make the transition from seeing themselves as a student to seeing themselves as a professional. They often tell me it’s the best course they’ve ever done,” he says.

Andy stays in touch with many of his graduates. For example, a Korean graduate who studied with him a decade ago had emailed to say he had  got a top job in human resources. The young man’s English had been limited when he arrived in New Zealand but rapidly improved after Andy arranged for him to coach a secondary school football team.

“He learned how to communicate, plan, organise and lead a group. He said it was that coaching experience that got him his new job,” says Andy.

“If you set great expectations for students they rise to the challenge. It’s all about the relationship they have with you.”

“Whenever I get a new class, I look at my students and know, ‘In six months, there’ll be more to you than you think.’” 

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By Linley Boniface

Updated 2 years ago

Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student. 

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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