Creating the next generation of sports industry professionals


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


Professor Andy Martin doesn’t just pass on knowledge to his students – he develops “confident people who can thrive anywhere”. The award-winning Professor in Sport and Physical Education believes work integrated learning experiences give his students a competitive edge, and uses lessons learned from the All Blacks to encourage them to aim high.

He is 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,” Professor Martin says. “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.

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

His 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 to become leaders and problem-solvers in their chosen fields.

For Professor Martin, teaching is not 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.”

Award winning teaching

Professor Martin 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.

Professor Martin 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 placement have been doing anything from supervising major rugby matches to coaching a volleyball team or 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.

Professor Martin currently has students on placements in Australia, Vietnam, France, Switzerland, Canada and the United States, 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.

Helping international students thrive

Professor Martin stays in touch with many of his former students, including a Korean graduate who studied with him a decade ago. The graduate recently contacted him to say he now had a top job in human resources.

The young man’s English had been limited when he arrived in New Zealand, but rapidly improved after Professor Martin 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.”

Professor Martin has kept up his own ties with the community by managing a range of sport development initiatives, such as triathlon events and coaching football at various levels. He says it helps to give him industry credibility with his students and keep him “updated and real” as a professor.

He is a big believer in student-centred education, and likes to get to know his students as individuals – their culture, background, motivation and other aspects impacting their lives.

“I don’t describe myself as a lecturer because I don’t lecture them. I see myself as a coach or mentor, working alongside my students to help them succeed. I learn from them, and they learn from me.”

Professor Martin makes it a priority to help international students feel comfortable with the New Zealand style of learning, which involves students asking questions, coming up with their own ideas and working collaboratively to solve problems.

He might encourage an international student to discuss their ideas with him after class to help them build up the confidence to speak in front of others.

“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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