St George’s Park is the national home of football in England and where the country’s best talents come to develop and train. And helping to prepare England’s next generation of stars is Australian physiotherapist and strength and conditioning coach Callum Repper.
For the past two and a half years Repper has worked for the Football Association at Burton upon Trent. There the Aussie has aided in the progression of Premier League players such as Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock, and Women’s Super League stars like Lauren James and Grace Fisk.
It’s a dream job for him and a long way from his roots in Western Australia.
“I wouldn’t have pictured myself here five or 10 years ago, so I’m very thankful for it and I’ve enjoyed every step,” Repper told The World Game.
“My job title is women’s professional development phase lead, I work with the England women’s national Under-21s team, the Under-19s predominantly and the Under-18s.
“It’s a role overseeing those athletes, to try and push them to have the behaviours and the capability to stand up to the similar level at any stage, as quite a few of them have gone on to in the past year or so.
“We also jump around to help out when needed, so I’ve had experience on the men’s pathway and assisting with the senior teams from time to time. It’s been quite nice to get that broader experience across both men’s and women’s sides.
“I spend roughly 100 days on the road each year, whether that being internationally or based out of St George’s Park. In between that with have off-camp duties as well, like planning and reviewing and working with the coaching staff and support staff to plan the next fixtures and look bigger picture.
“And then there’s that a coverage aspect of it as well we have individual projects, which we’re tasked with overseeing and they’re designed to drive our departments forwards in how we can assist in delivering the vision of winning a major tournament over the next four-year cycle.”
At the FA Repper has overseen first-hand the development of precocious talents in both the men’s and women’s games like Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, Aston Villa whizz-kid Louie Barry, Liverpool forward Rinsola Babajude, Manchester City striker Jess Park and Birmingham City keeper Hannah Hampton.
“It’s exciting to see young players come through,” he said.
“I’ve had the chance, from a rehab perspective, work with some of the women’s senior national team in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup. Some of the men’s professional development phase players I’ve worked with are now breaking into first-teams week-in-week-out in the Premier League, which is exciting to see.
“And in terms of the women’s teams post-World Cup there has been a push to bring in a youth focus into the women’s seniors.”
Repper grew up in Perth and moved to Melbourne after finishing high school. He completed a Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Honours degree from the University of Melbourne and cut his teeth in roles in AFL, amateur football and for Basketball Victoria.
But after studying for a Master’s degree in Strength and Conditioning from Edith Cowan University, he decided to relocate to England in 2016 and landed a job as a physiotherapist for the Reading FC Women’s first-team.
“My parents are both from the UK originally, my mum’s from Blackburn and my Dad’s from Aberdeen,” he explained.
“Reading had just been promoted from the second tier. It was just the right place at the right time. I did two seasons in the Women’s Super League with Reading, so it was really fighting for survival and to avoid relegation for those two seasons.
“And then I was able to transition to working in Formula One. That took me out of football for 18 months.”
Repper then spent nearly two years working for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team and for the Haas Formula One team. But he was head-hunted to join the FA and return to football in 2018.
Repper says his love for the beautiful game has grown over the years as he helps to guide England’s most talented young footballers to glory on the international stage.
“It was quite organic for me,” he admitted.
“I loved being around any team sport growing up, and then my work life has shown that to me as well. From a professional perspective football is a really interesting sport to work in with it being the world game, because there’s such a huge raft of information out there.
“But there’s also some quite varied practices around the world in athlete preparation and sports medicine. So I think it’s quite unique and it has been really interesting to be part of.”