Helping top athletes become champions

Award-winning sport psychology specialist Mustafa Sarkar is helping leading athletes step up to become champions.

He is forging an academic career that includes equipping talented sportsmen and women with the psychological attributes necessary to succeed at the highest level.

Mustafa (1997–2004) has won a string of awards, attracted national press interest for his research and gained his PhD. He has a permanent post at Nottingham Trent University, where he teaches across the undergraduate and post-graduate degree programmes.

In 2016, he gained international recognition, winning the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP)’s Doctoral Dissertation Award. He travelled to Phoenix, Arizona, to be presented with the award in front of more than 1,000 conference delegates – one of very few British psychologists to have gained such recognition from the AASP, which is dominated by Americans and Canadians. He received his award from 2015–2016 AASP President Brent Walker.

After taking A-levels at QE in Economics, Chemistry and Mathematics, Mustafa spent a gap year working for PricewaterhouseCoopers as an assistant tax consultant for eight months and travelled in South America for three months.

He went to Loughborough University, from where he graduated in July 2008 with a first-class honours degree in Sport and Exercise Science. He then went on to complete a Post Graduate Diploma in Psychology (with distinction) from Middlesex University.

In 2009, he was named Xcel Sports Student of the Year, with the judges praising him both for his academic work and for coaching cricket with Loughborough school children. He has climbed five UK mountains for charity and run the London Marathon, also for charity, raising £2,350.

He was awarded the British Psychological Society (BPS) Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology (DSEP) PhD award for 2015.

Other accolades he has won include Loughborough’s Sir Robert Martin Faculty Prize for academic and non-academic achievements and the Head of School's Postgraduate Prize for Academic Excellence, awarded annually to the student with the highest overall mark in a Masters Programme. He also received the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) Conference’s Masters Dissertation of the Year Award for 2011.

At the time of the London 2012 Olympics, he made headlines in the mainstream press with a piece of in-depth research – conducted jointly with a Loughborough colleague – which looked into the minds of 12 Olympic Gold Medal winners, exploring how qualities such as resilience helped them achieve success.

He later had a two-year role as a Research Fellow at the University of Gloucestershire, which involved working within the School of Sport and Exercise, across the Faculty of Applied Sciences (psychological sciences subject group), and with external partners to develop the faculty's research profile in related areas.

At Nottingham Trent, Mustafa is Module Leader for Advanced Topics in Sport and Exercise Psychology as well as contributing to several other modules across the undergraduate curriculum. He is also Leader for the postgraduate module, Current Issues in Sport and Exercise Psychology.

Mustafa is married to Tasnim, who is a qualified speech therapist. His younger brother, Mustali (OE 2000–2007) got married in 2013, just a few months after Mustafa’s wedding.

Mustafa was awarded his PhD in Sport Psychology from Loughborough University in July 2015.