The University of Birmingham Women’s Football team (UOBWFC) comprises six female and six male coaches, who look after a club of 80 players across four teams. If that wasn’t enough, every week on top of training twice and having a match, the coaches volunteer a huge amount of their time to the cause – from Mini-Soccer to Just Play. This week, with Girl’s Football Week in full swing at the University, we take a look at a few of the men and women behind the scenes.
The University was crowned an FA Women’s High Performance Centre earlier this year, one of eight in the country to be an official facility of excellence for the sport. One of their main goals is to double the amount of female participation in football by 2020 – whether that’s players, coaches or the workforce – and the UOBWFC is definitely putting all its efforts into achieving this.
We asked a couple of the coaches at UOBWFC to tell us a bit about their transition into coaching and why it is important to them.
Marcus Webber, Coach-Intern volunteer for the 1st team, found UOBWFC helped him both academically and developmentally for his coaching.
“I joined the University of Birmingham Women’s Football Club nearly 3 years ago and have now completed 3 full seasons as the assistant coach. When I first joined the club I had just completed my first year of my Sports, Physical Education and Coaching Science degree, but was struggling to relate or apply the theory I was learning to how I was actually going to be using it now or in the future. I was at risk of dropping out of university.
“After meeting with Gemma Davies (Head of Women’s Football), the following 2 years of my degree became much more enjoyable. I had a great deal of support from the club in understanding and completing my work and learning to apply the theory to practice in the process. I also developed massively as a football coach. When I joined, I was a Level 1 coach and only coached at Saturday Schools at a local centre, with little knowledge of the football industry. In 3 years at UOBWFC I have become a much more confident, comfortable and knowledgeable football coach, completing my FA Level 2 and passing my UEFA B Licence, achieving my Youth Module Level 2 and Goalkeeping Level 1 in the process. I have also gone on to run and manage 2 separate grassroots teams in my local area, which enabled me to develop my knowledge of how to plan, deliver and run a club single handed. In my 3rd year at the Club, I was appointed as First Team Assistant Coach for Coventry United Ladies F.C.
“All in all, it is fair to say the club has helped shaped my career. The club has played a pivotal role in me both passing my degree (understanding my learning, enjoying my learning, and applying my learning in the process), and directing and developing me as a football coach (helping with upskilling, confidence, achieving higher coaching qualifications and allowing me to coach and experiment on the training pitch as well as doing in-game decision making.”
Tash Buckland, 2nd team Coach, started at the University as a player and has been volunteering for 3 years.
“I first became involved with UOBWFC in the 2014/15 season where I played for the 3rd team. Following a successful season on the pitch, I spoke to Gemma Davies about my ambitions of becoming a coach in the future and I was offered various opportunities. I started working with the 2nd team the following season. This has been a great opportunity for me, I have been able to observe high level and experience coaches on a day to day basis as well as having direct feedback on sessions I have delivered. Throughout the past two years we have finished 2nd in our league and won the cup this season. I have enjoyed working with high calibre players from the Women’s Premier League and regional leagues, as well as having the opportunity to affect the performance of these individuals. I am still coaching at UOBWFC but these opportunities have allowed me to go on to gain my level 2 qualification, coach for Aston Villa and be involved in the selection and training of the English Universities team. Without the club and the support from the coaches I wouldn’t be as confident as I now am in my coaching and definitely would not have had access to the same opportunities.”
Gemma coaching photo credit: Josh Hinds