Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport

Team members

Robert Townsend

PhD student in Health and Wellbeing

Under the supervision of Dr. Brett Smith and Dr. Chris Cushion, Rob’s research falls at the intersection of coaching and disability studies, with a particular interest in sociological inquiry. Developed in partnership with the National Autistic Society, his work explores the learning experiences of coaches who work in disability sport, with a specific focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Importantly, the project begins to address the issue of rigorously evaluating coach education and its broader impact on coaching practice within disability sport.


  • MSc Sport Coaching, Loughborough University (2013).
  • BSc Physical Education and Youth Sport, Sheffield Hallam University (2012).

Previous research and experience

Having worked as a cricket coach in schools and communities across the United Kingdom and in New Zealand, it was these experiences which sparked his interest in disability sport, and stems from his belief that sport can be used as a vehicle to engage with, and help athletes with autism express themselves.  

Selected recent keynote and conference presentations

  • Townsend, R.C. & Cushion, C. (2014) Elite Coach Education: A Bourdieusian Analysis, Qualitative Research in Sport & Exercise, September 2014, Loughborough, UK.