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FA’s search to recruit more female coaches
As part of its new women’s and girls’ football strategy – called ‘Inspiring Positive Change’ – the Football Association says it aims to have exceptional coaches at every level of the game, who are representative of society.
To support this, the FA Grassroots Delivery Team has appointed eight Regional Coach Development Officers (CDOs), focusing on recruiting and developing female coaches across England. Women’s Soccer Coaching spoke with the FA’s Sharon Muxworthy, Jo Williams and Jodie Whitford-Stark to find out more about how they are supporting female coaches and coaches within the female game…
WSC: How do you want to make an impact?
SM: “We want to inspire and empower a diverse female coaching workforce for the grassroots game. “We aim to do this by sharing and celebrating the success stories of the existing female coaching workforce at all levels, to help women realise they already have the necessary skills to become a football coach. “We are committed to supporting them to step over the sidelines, whether that be from a parent, spectator or as a former player. The women and girls’ coaching pathway is structured to support females at all stages of their journey. “For coaches on the performance pathway, we aim to offer the support they need at the time they need it, so they can navigate their personal journeys.”
“We want to inspire and empower a diverse female coaching workforce.”
WSC: What support is in place for new, inexperienced or aspiring coaches?
SM: “We delivered four weekly regional webinars as we launched our ‘Women in Coaching’ campaign, to coincide with International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. “The webinars celebrated the journeys and experiences of women who coach in grassroots. Many give up their time freely and it was truly inspirational to listen to women sharing how their journeys in coaching have enabled them to help so many players fall in love with football. “This campaign celebrated the incredible work of female grassroots coaches, while also inspiring more women to begin their coaching journey, through highlighting the importance of female role models and greater visibility. “These webinars uncovered a real thirst from women wanting to further develop and be involved with coaching and, as we return to the grass, we are hopeful we can support more females make the transition, with some practical sessions to support the new free online FA Playmaker course.”
JW: “We’ve also launched a Female Grassroots Coaches Online Community – a safe, virtual space for likeminded individuals to connect, share and learn. “It is hosted by the FA and monitored and contributed to by our coach development team. There are several different topic forums where members can ask questions, contribute to discussions, or even share some of their own ideas. “The platform is also used to share inspirational case studies and best practice from around the country. To join the community, you will need an FA Number (Click here >) and then you can sign up to the group (Click here >).
WSC: What support is in place for more experienced and ambitious coaches?
JW-S: “The FA Women’s High Performance Football Centres are part of the FA’s coach development system. “There are nine centres across England and each centre is based at a leading university in their region. Universities are high-performing institutions and are best placed to support coaches to be high performing. “The team identify and support talented coaches in key areas, who aspire to work in the female game with the desire to be the best they can be. “Since 2017, the centres have been supporting coaches to be better and progress. On average, each centre may work with 300 coaches a year. “The coaches themselves have ownership over what their coach development journey looks like, what they engage with and to what extent.”
WSC: What sort of support can coaches expect from the FA Regional Coach Development Officers and WHPC Coach Development Officers?
SM: “The learning and support we can provide is varied, as we look to meet the needs of females across the game, regardless of the context in which they coach. “A blended approach ensures we can utilise digital and/or ‘on-demand’ resources, as well as face-to-face practical delivery. “It is hoped this accessible and flexible approach will remove any barriers or obstacles that may have in the past prevented females from engaging. “We will also work closely with local County FAs to further provide targeted CPD support and deployment throughout the grassroots game, alongside a digital offering facilitated through England Football Learning.”
“There is a real collaborative approach to support female coaches…”
JW-S: “The Women’s High Performance Centres also offer training and support aligned to coaching in a high-performance environment, such as around the menstrual cycle, goalkeeping, session design, session delivery, analysis, reflecting, psychology, growth and maturation. “This will be offered through a range of support mechanisms such as one-to-one support, group discussions, communities of support and bespoke content specific to the needs of the coaches in their community.”
WSC: How can coaches get involved and find their nearest Women’s High Performance Centre?
JW-S: “You can find your nearest FA Women’s High-Performance Centre by clicking here. “There is a real collaborative approach and clear strategy in helping to support female coaches and coaches within the female game. “This is helping us, as a team of coach developers, to really work together in ensuring we maximise the right type of support for all, no matter their context. “So, if you’re an aspiring female coach in England and want to know more about the support the FA provides, contact your local County FA Women and Girls’ Officer and they can introduce you to your Regional Coach Development Officer for Women and Girls to help you plan your next steps. “Depending on the stage you are at in your journey, we will ensure you are signposted to the best support for you at that time. “Whether it be your local County FA, FA Regional Coach Development Officer, or Women’s High Performance Centre Coach Development Officer, we will aim to support you together.”
Sharon Muxworthy is FA Regional Coach Development Officer for women and girls in the south-east region.
Jo Williams is FA Regional Coach Development Officer for women and girls in the east region.
Jodie Whitford-Stark is Coach Development Officer at FA Women’s High-Performance Football Centre, St Mary’s University, London.