Job title National Coach Development Lead (Diversity and Inclusion)
Employer The Football Association
Can you tell us about your role as National Coach Development Lead (Diversity and Inclusion)?
My role is to help diversify the football workforce and provide more inspirational opportunities for coaches and players. I manage and support a team of regional coach development officers across the south region.
What are the main responsibilities within your role?
My week changes every week, it is broken down to various meetings and when I can out supporting football coaches, clubs and communities.
Can you tell us about your career path to date?
I went to college and studied a BTEC Sports Coaching Programme. That gave me my first insight into coaching. I remember volunteering in a Sports Development Unit in the summer of my first year. It allowed me to coach various sports and work with different communities. In the summer before I started university I worked on Camp America in California working with inner city kids from San Francisco. I went to Leeds Beckett University and studied Sports Science and in my first year I completed my FA Level 1 coaching Award (now called Introduction to Coaching Award).
I really enjoyed my first coaching role and delivered after-school clubs and various PE lessons across Yorkshire. I continued to do this all the way through university and in the summers I would coach football in America. This was one of my highlights, it allowed me to coach different age groups and abilities, travel to over 15 states but also meet so many different people, many who are still working in the football industry. It was a fantastic cultural experience.
A key tip is to make sure you continue to network and meet as many people as you can.
When I graduated, I went to live and coach in Salt Lake City, Utah for another 4 years. I was coaching everyday but also continued to develop as a coach, I went on to complete my FA Level 2 (now UEFA C). When my time came to and end in America I moved back to England and started my Masters in Physical Education and UEFA B award.
I started teaching in Bradford and got my first coaching role at Bradford City Football Club. I worked with their U9s/11s/14s in my 3 seasons there. During that I also secured a part time role at The Football Association in their Coach Mentor Programme as a coach mentor. I was able to support the development of Grassroots football coaches across Yorkshire.
This gave me valuable insight into coach development and understand grassroots football more.
I joined The Football Association full time in 2015, my role as a Regional PE and Coaching in Education Coordinator in The FA PE Unit. This allowed me to work with Professional Football Clubs, universities, Teacher training providers and School Sports Partnership to support them in their development around teaching PE. My role also allowed me to deliver coaching courses across the FA Coaching Pathway.
I developed as a practitioner and continued to coach football and study. I completed my UEFA A licence and PGCERT in Sports Coaching between 2016-2018. I moved into a new role in 2020 as a Coach Development Officer for Diversity and Inclusion with a key focus to diversify the football coaching workforce and tackle stubborn inequalities. During this time my learning did not stop and I started my Advanced Youth Award and UEFA B in Futsal.
This season I have started a new role as the National Coach Development Lead for Diversity and Inclusion where I oversee the planning and implementation of the D&I Coach Development Strategy to tackle stubborn inequalities and to make the coaching workforce more diverse.
One of my key tips is not to stop learning both informally and formally. The ongoing discussions I have with coaches, colleagues and people I meet are invaluable. I am currently finishing the UEFA Certificate in Football Management, the course again has opened my thinking and has allowed me to learn from different football federations from across Europe.
What skills and knowledge do you need in your role?
You need the relevant football coaching qualifications from a technical point of view. My experiences in Sports Development has allowed me to work with partners and understand the importance collaboration across departments and organisations.
Having good interpersonal skills is vital too, within the world of Grassroots football you will come across different environments so it is important you have different skills to relate with your audience. You can be coaching a U5 mini kickers session on Monday then delivering a workshop to a group of coaches on a Thursday so you have to be ready to put on different hats.
What opportunities are there in your industry for young people?
There are more opportunities now in football and lots of support out there too. When it comes to coaching there are different coaching environments. It is important that as a up and coming coach you try them all and work out which one suits you the best.
What are you looking for when it comes to recruiting? What makes people stand out?
I always look out for 3 things and ask myself
- Can the person do the job? – that is your qualifications, experience and educational background
- How will the person be in front of stakeholders? – this is the personal skills, is the candidate humble and can he/she relate to the audience we are working with
- How will the person fit in the team? – this is around what skill set does this person bring to the team, how will they work with others in the team, what value does he/she add. It is important we do recruit people with the same skillsets.
What advice would you tell young students with an interest in sport and keen to pursue a career in sport?
Education – go to school and ensure you get good grades. Make sure you get the right qualifications for the job.
Exposure – surround yourself with good people who can challenge, support and develop you.
Experience – try and get into as many environments as you can. Volunteer your time and always give back to the community
Employable – Be humble, stay authentic and be your true self.
My final one would be to find the job you want in 5 years time, highlight the things you can do or the qualifications you hold for that role that will then shape your own personal development in the short and medium term.
What was the best advice you were given?
Always leave your seat in a better place for the next person.
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