Reaching my ‘A’ game

Opportunities for female coaches have dramatically increased in recent years – a huge step in the right direction.

Currently, I am assistant coach for Ireland Women’s Under-17s and work as a regional development officer for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

I have also nearly completed my Uefa A licence, which will be a massive achievement for me personally, especially at 25 years old.

In late 2018, the FAI coach education department was granted funding from Uefa to run its first female-only Uefa B licence course, which I was thrilled to be part of.

I have since developed the skills I learned and applied for the Uefa A licence course in January 2021.

Chelsea Noonan is assistant coach for Ireland Women’s Under-17s

To be honest, though, I wouldn’t advise coaches to rush through the process. It is important to learn your trade and not feel like you must get through the badges as quickly as possible. Of course, if you feel ready, go for it – but don’t rush if you are not.

After submitting an application for the Uefa A course, I progressed to the interview stage, in front of a panel of FAI high- performance coaches and coach education tutors, where I had to present a match analysis task allocated prior to the interview.

I was thrilled to receive a place on the course, but was concerned I wouldn’t get the full experience due to the pandemic.

The first two contact blocks were online but the Learning Management System (LMS) ensured that, although the participants were not together physically, we felt a sense of togetherness.

The LMS is a one-stop-shop for all needs throughout the coaching pathway, and combines match analysis software with session planning software, alongside an assignment upload platform.

It is also a way, post-course, for participants to keep in contact and share ideas and session plans.

I am the only female on my A licence group, but that has never phased me. If anything, it has motivated me more to show I am just as capable as the 23 men on the course.

I had a few doubts before I started – was it the right time, or should I wait another year or two? But I backed myself and had confidence in my ability.

It paid off for me. And if you, too, feel like you are ready for the next step, go for it.

The great thing about the FAI coaching courses now is that there is no pass or fail as such. If your tutor feels you need a while longer to progress in a certain area before receiving the licence, they will continue a mentorship programme for you until you have reached the required competency level. In that respect, there’s nothing to fear.




Before the course, I would reflect in some capacity but never fully understood how vital it is. Reflecting after a session or game is analysing your own performance and behaviours. Did I react in an emotional way? Did learning really take place? Is there anything I could have done better? The answer to that last one is yes – there is always room for improvement. Every day is a school day!



The best coaches in the world all have one thing in common – their attention to detail. Whether it is in session planning, periodization plans, player improvement plans, or match analysis, the detail in absolutely everything they do is crucial. The FAI coach education department emphasises this on all their courses, including the Uefa A Licence. Previously, I would have said that I always paid close attention to small details – I was mistaken. It is only now, after almost seven months on the UEFA A course, that I really understand what true attention to detail is and just how important it really is.



Get as much experience as you possibly can across all age groups, both male and female. Be willing to learn something every single day. Utilise the experienced people around you to help you develop. Be patient – it might take some time to get to where you want to be. But if you are determined, you will get there. Also, stay humble. The day you think you know it all is the day when you know nothing.

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