Manchester United, take note. Because, not only has the woman’s football team here at Warwick seen both their first and second squads finish in third place in their respective divisions, but this season, the club has also launched their first ever coaching programme in partnership with two schools in the surrounding area.
And with the great success of the scheme, which culminated in a student-run friendly match between the two schools, it’s fair to say that, when accomplished with a tactics board, the UWWFC girls definitely prove more Mourinho than Moyes.
Thirty schoolgirls were coached by those from the club, during the spring term.
The hard work began all the way back in the summer of last year, when the club arranged for an FA Level 1 Coaching Course to be held at the University. After a number of the girls completed this course, the club then teamed up with Warwick Volunteers, in order to take advantage of their strong links with schools in the surrounding area.
As a result of this, around thirty schoolgirls were coached by those from the club, during the spring term. The feedback from both the girls and their parents has been overwhelmingly positive, and the club hopes that football will begin to play a bigger part in the P.E. curriculum of the local schools.
What with the creation of the Women’s Super League (WSL) in 2011, and the WSL2 (a second tier division that allows promotion to the WSL) due to kick-off for its inaugural season this summer, the women’s game is currently riding the crest of a wave, and as the highly successful 2013 Women’s European Championships demonstrated, interest in the sport has never been higher.
This was something the girls here at Warwick were astutely aware of when pioneering the scheme, as club member Natasha Kelly told me.
“Women’s football has become one of the fastest growing sports in the country in recent years. As a club, we believed that we were in too much of a privileged position within the sport to pass up on the opportunity to encourage its development locally.”
“We had the numbers, the time, and the resources to hold these sessions, so it would have been a shame not to have established them.”
We were told that the boys dominated the football games at lunchtime.”
Natasha then told me of the pre-conceptions the younger girls had regarding the world of football. Sadly, if perhaps not unsurprisingly, many of the schoolgirls saw football as a ‘boy’s game’, and therefore not something for them to display any interest in.
“Most of the girls hadn’t ever had the opportunity to play football because of its reputation for being a sport for the boys”, she explained. “We were told that the boys dominated the football games at lunchtime and in P.E. lessons, and that the girls were never really taken seriously. However, that said, it was great to see how many girls had an interest in football and wanted to play.”
It would appear this enthusiasm rubbed off on the older girls, and Natasha went on to tell me how the different perspective of coaching would serve only to improve the quality of UWWFC.
“We learnt so much when taking the (FA Level 1 Coaching) course over the summer, and it really opened our eyes to the most effective ways of coaching football, and how to adapt them to suit different players.”
She added that “we now also know the responsibility and the difficulties that coaches face occasionally, which has been useful to take into account in our own training sessions.”
Naturally, Natasha was very proud of the impact that the scheme had made, and wished to pay tribute to Warwick Volunteers, who played a pivotal role in the creation of the programme, as well as those at Warwick Sport, and in particular Joe Barr.
Joe Barr was absolutely fundamental to the success of our sessions.”
“We approached Joe with our rough idea of wanting to coach in schools, and from there on in he was with us every step of the way. He set up the coaching course for us, and increased participation by widening access to the scheme. He was absolutely fundamental to the success of our sessions,” she said.
The coaching scheme, then, represents a real team effort, and a great number of people can be very proud of the achievements of the programme. And with the women’s football club leading the way in the local community, it’s surely only a matter of time before the girls find themselves inundated with coaching offers from managerless Premier League teams.