Our third ‘The Player Zone Powered by Orchard’ Zoom conversation sees a select panel of trailblazing female coaches discuss their coaching journeys, opportunities and their lock-down challenges!
The panel, chaired by Nic Anderson FAW Trust Coach Educator and UEFA Pro License Candidate, included:
- Nia Davies, Briton Ferry Player, FAW Trust U15s Coach, Former Head of Coaching at Penybont Academy and Academy Coach at Swansea City Boys Academy
- Estelle Randall, Cardiff Met Player, Strength & Conditioning Coach at Cardiff City Ladies
- Del Morgan, Former Wales Youth International, UEFA A GK Candidate, Connah’s Quay Nomads Head of Senior Phase GKs, Regional Girls and Boys GK Coach
- Hayley Williams, Port Talbot Manager in WPWL
The challenges of lock-down coaching
During these tough times, coaches have had to adapt and think creatively from their kitchens and living rooms to keep inspiring and motivating the younger players. However, Hayley, Manager of Port Talbot highlighted that you could set online targets, but it’s up to the players if they want to engage - “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”, as Hayley put it. A brilliant tool that they have utilised recently that they have found has helped is Strava, a clever app that helps users track and analyse every aspect of their activity to keep fitness levels up.
Keeping physically active is important at the moment. Our strength & conditioning expert on the panel, Estelle, recently started her coaching journey and has only ever experienced coaching during a lock-down! , Estelle has had to adapt and used video to get her players moving and to ensure her plans are accessible to as many players as possible. One thing is for certain, the lockdown has proven how adaptive coaches can be.
Grabbing those opportunities
The common theme was that they all picked up coaching at a young age. Interestingly, when Nic started her journey, there were very little opportunities out there for female coaches. Today however, there are so many more opportunities out there. Estelle certainly grabbed one of those opportunities when it came her way. Having played for Cardiff Met, she enjoyed the gym-based training side and made an overnight decision that she wanted to apply her learning – and that’s exactly what she did! You don’t even have to have grown up in football to find your way into coaching - there are ways you can create those opportunities for yourself.
Further afield, Del focuses on goalkeeping coaching and working with both the boys' and girls' regional squads in North Wales. Many of the girls play in grassroots clubs and unfortunately, don’t get any goalkeeping coaching opportunities at grassroots level, so it is even more important to help them develop and reach their goals.
Facing their fears and pearls of wisdom
Very often women and girls can be put off signing up to a coaching course as they might not know anyone on that course or may be worried that they will be the only female. Don’t be!
Del talked about overcoming hearing and voice level problems, and how that affected her self-confidence. She had also never played out-field so when doing the out-field licence, she felt completely out of her depth. She felt like she had a point to prove - but once she was embedded in the environment, got to know the players, her self-belief grew, and now wonders why she ever doubted herself! The experience made her a better coach and highlights that it’s so important to be thorough with your planning and make the most of any mentors you may work with.
Estelle talked about accepting that every coaching course or coaching based degree will be 90% male. She had a feeling of imposter syndrome once she started applying for roles. She acknowledged that she’d done all the hard work but questioned whether she felt ready; “it’s always going to be a challenge to get men to listen to a female coach on lifting weights!” Her mantra throughout has been - “Just be confident in yourself”.
Nia was more fearful about her knowledge and whether she was good enough to do it. The fact that she is female did not worry her – “don’t let your gender define you!” She currently runs coaching sessions for three different age groups for regionals, the U15’s, the U13’s and the U11’s, once or twice a week, developing them ready for the U17’s and National team.
One thing that was obvious throughout the discussion was the overall love of football that the whole panel (and host!) had. Each guest had their own journey to tell, but regardless of their background, be it playing in grassroots clubs, or playing for Liverpool, or just choosing overnight that football was for them, their passion, determination and resilience was inspirational for all to see. A great advert for pursuing a coaching career in Wales!
Do you want to get involved in coaching? For more information, go to https://www.fawcourses.com/courses
A Zoom Conversation… Being a better LGBTQ+ Ally
Our fourth ‘The Player Zone by Orchard’ zoom conversation sees a select panel of incredible LGBTQ+ ambassadors discuss how we can all be better LGBTQ+ alliesRead more
Return of the Orchard WPWLRead more
'Elite Status' reinstated for Cymru Premier and WPWL
The JD Cymru Premier and Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League has had its 'Elite Status' reinstated by Sport Wales.Read more