Successful communication and your own positive behaviours are the keys to keeping soccer mums and dads onside, says expert GORDON MacLELLAND MORE
A menstrual manifesto
‘Coaches need more training to support us’
“It does affect your performance at times, especially coordination, concentration and just being in pain. Coaches, especially men, don’t have an insight or educated back- ground on women and our needs.
“It’s very male dominated and expecting the same outcome every time regardless of the time of the month is unrealistic. I feel there should be training for a better understanding, with support systems in place.”
CHLOE CHRISTISON-MCNEE, WHYTELEAFE WOMEN FC
‘More clubs need to provide sanitary bins’
“As a woman in football, one of my biggest bugbears is clubs not providing sanitary bins.
“It’s something so simple, and it’s not just about the players or officials, it’s also about your female supporters.
“How can you be ‘female-friendly’ if you do not supply basic duty of care?
“At a level where we’re trying to encourage more females into the game, we need to tackle the fact that most grassroots clubs do not provide basic female hygiene facilities.”
FREYA LOUIS, GIRLS’ & WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT MANAGER NEEDHAM MARKET ACADEMY & NEEDHAM MARKET FOOTBALL CLUB
‘Some cultural lessons have to be learned’
“When I worked in a more heavily traditional Hispanic community, many of our girls would only use pads – tampons were not allowed due to old-school Catholic beliefs.
“So I had to change soccer uniforms to have girls in dark shorts only. Many felt physically hampered when having to be on their cycle and then dealing with a bulky pad. There were lots of culture issues I had to learn about. One player finally told me why they didn’t want to wear white shorts.”
LORI LEE, BOARD MEMBER, SAN ANTONIO SURF
‘Education is key to overcoming stigma’
“Stigma is major barrier and education is key. As a male coach in the women’s game, working with girls from 10 through to adult, the barrier of knowledge is blocked through a fear of the subject.
“The key is education – for players and coaches – but the line is blurred as to what feels appropriate to discuss and what isn’t, what is too personal and what is scientific information?
“The more one researches the subject, the more one realises that this is such a key element to coaching women’s and girls’ sport.
“A coach must have knowledge, for instance, on warm-ups, safe practice and injury prevention, but where do menstrual cycles come into this? The result of no education is ultimately injuries.”
JON COTTERILL-BOLSOVER, HEAD OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS & DEVELOPMENT, CHESTERFIELD FC WOMEN
‘Creating individualized training programs shows women and girls that they belong in sport’
“We track wellness metrics and specific physical and psychological symptoms throughout the cycle so in terms of affect, we’ve got a year of self-reported data.
“We’ve done cycle and oral contraceptive-based ‘return to plays’, as well as helping transition players off oral contraceptives or finding better fitting prescriptions with fewer side effects.
“I think it’s bigger than individualizing training for the sake of performance, it’s for the sake of equity.
“Creating training programs for the athlete that’s in front of you, especially when that athlete is a woman, tells our women and girls they are valid and they belong in sport.”
SAM MOORE, APPLIED SPORT SCIENTIST & ASSISTANT STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COACH, NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOMEN’S SOCCER