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Women's Football News
During May and June, the FA will review the impact of The Gameplan for Growth strategy on the women's and girls' game.
Launched in March 2017, the strategy pledged to tackle ambitious targets to double participation [by doubling the number of affiliated teams], double the game's fan base and create a high-performance system and world-class talent pipeline for England teams to achieve consistent success on the world stage. After four seasons the strategy is now concluding, and in the coming months The FA will outline its continued support for women's and girls' football with the launch of the 2020-2024 strategy.
This week reviews The Gameplan for Growth's positive impact on the recruitment and development of coaching in the women's and girls' game.
The Gameplan for Growth committed to ‘increase the number and diversity of women coaching the sport at all levels' by developing The FA's coaching structure.
• 5,180 new female coaches from 2017 to 2020
• Collaboration with Sport England to support 204 female coaches with bursaries to improve access to UEFA B, A and Pro licence qualifications
• Doubling the number of female coaches holding a UEFA A licence from 41 in 2017 to 82 in 2020
• The introduction of Coach Development Officers to provide one-to-one support - engaging with 2,487 male and female coaches working at grassroots and talent pathway level
• One to one support for 148 male and female coaches at Tiers 1-3 of the women's game and Regional Talent Clubs [RTCs] via the introduction of Women's National Coach Developers
• 34,581 coaching qualifications for female coaches from levels 1 to 5 - an 18% increase from 2017
• 333% increase in female head coaches/managers in the Barclays FA WSL and FA Women's Championship, from three in 2016/17 to 13 in 2019/20
• 67% increase in female head coaches with England's national teams, from three in 2016/17 to five in 2019/20
Audrey Cooper, The FA's Head of Women's Coach Development, commented: "My arrival at The FA from UK Sport in March 2017, coincided with the launch of The Gameplan for Growth and an ambition from my new employers to ‘increase the number and diversity of women coaching in the sport at all levels'.
"We recognised improving coaching underpins the strategy's three big goals to double participation, double the fanbase and to achieve consistent success on the world stage. Better coaching is fundamental to facilitating better player experiences at grassroots and driving higher playing standards in the pro game, thus making it a better, more technical and tactical product to watch.
"The complex challenge put simply was to attract more women into coaching, open the doors for talented female coaches to work at the highest level and provide a better support structure to nurture and develop all coaches [male and female] who were already involved in the women's and girls' game. Growing coaching capability beyond qualifications was fundamental.
"I faced similar challenges at UK Sport and Volleyball England but football's scale and numbers were far greater. Prior to joining The FA, I transitioned from Head Coach of Team GB women's indoor volleyball team at London 2012, to Technical and Talent Director at Volleyball England and then Coaching Team Lead at UK Sport, where I was responsible for the strategic design, operational planning and delivery of Olympic and Paralympic coach development programmes. A major part of my role was to know what our elite coaches were experiencing and the support they required, whilst also understanding the journey grassroots coaches were on.
"The backdrop to our work at The FA was the rapid growth in the women's game. In 2017, the top three tiers of the women's football pyramid looked very different and full-time coaching positions were few and far between. Three years have seen us transition to a professional environment with the introduction of the Barclays FA Women's Super League and increased standards and opportunities in the FA Women's Championship and FA Women's National Leagues. For the leagues and players to thrive we needed to take our coaches on a similar journey of development and increased professionalism, helping coaches consider how they want to coach, manage and lead.
"Our strategic focus was to recruit, retain, develop and deploy more coaches. However, we knew a ‘one size fits all' approach would not cater for the breadth of coaches across the whole game. The differing needs and demands on a coach at grassroots and at an elite level were considered. Their learning on and off the grass became our core philosophy.
"As a result, we have developed a range of bespoke coach support, tailoring the content and delivery specifically for coaching in the female game. For the first time, really exploring and acknowledging the similarities and differences of the women's game and how that impacts the skills, attributes and needs of the coaches and players. We have combined this activity with three other core strands; reinforcing the ‘brilliant basics' of coaching, clear signposting to qualifications, and proactively identifying and nurturing talented coaches."
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