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Researchers release telling and groundbreaking results of elite women football coaches’ experiences

Copyrights: Jamie Smed

Researchers release telling and groundbreaking results of elite women football coaches’ experiences

In light of another female coach leading her team to a football World Cup trophy, a consortium of researchers and academics release first-of-its-kind findings of a study on elite female football coaches' experiences.

Women football coaches are astonishingly successful - 92% of the world's major women's tournaments (FIFA World Cup, Olympics, UEFA Women’s European Championships) since 2000 have been won by female-coached teams. 7 July saw a female coach win the FIFA Women’s World Cup yet again. So why are women coaches not more sought-after and recognised?

Leading up to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a team of leading gender sport scholars conducted first-of-a-kind research interviews with elite, high-performance women football coaches from around the globe. The purpose was to collate and share their experiences, challenges, successes and stories pertaining to their role in professional football as well as draw attention to possible injustices and inequity. Results will raise awareness to the sport landscape women face, create international dialogue, and hopefully stimulate much-needed policy and agenda changes for the governance of football that improves the experiences of women coaches around the world.

Results of this groundbreaking study and recommendations for change were shared at the Equality Summit on 5 July in Lyon, an initiative of Equal Playing Field, Athletes for Hope and Football Women International.

3 key take-aways from the data

Women football coaches at the most elite level share the following:

  1. A clear sense of commitment to their athletes and the game, self-confidence, resilience, and self-awareness as to their strengths and philosophies, and are very reflective and articulate of their experiences and when given the opportunity, prove their ability. Yet they often report experiencing a lack of support, resources and commitment from those in power

    "I think that as the game becomes more and more popular – look at what’s happening around this World Cup – there are going to be more and more men wanting to come into this game. There aren’t enough [coaching] jobs, so the guys will have an opportunity to work in the men’s and the women’s game. Women, sadly, have minimal opportunity of working in the men’s game, and will have even less of an opportunity working in the women’s game in the future as more and more men come into it."

  2. Gender bias and discrimination surrounds their experiences. Being coached by a man is viewed as 'normal' and women coaches are perceived as introducing uncertainty into the system

    "The negative stories about the male coaches get ignored; the media ignore them; the players ignore them because they are getting an international [male] player with lots of international caps but no experience of coaching or coaching women…When there is a problem with a woman coach it is because ‘women cannot coach’ or are trouble makers!"

  3. They must work in an environment where it is generally believed that women coaches, female athletes, and women’s teams are second class citizens to their male counterparts

    "They [men] only know how to run and act in men’s football. And I think we are different and have different values. So they always say we want to learn from women’s football. And yet when they come up to a difference then they criticise it for not being the same, they want it to change, they want women to adapt. So they don’t really want to learn from us."

About

Article type

News

Author

De Haan, D., Norman, L., LaVoi, N.M., Knoppers, A.

Published

Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - 10:25