About Project 500

Whether you’re a new or experienced coach, or are just interested, we’re here to support you on your coaching journey. 

Project 500 aims to help address the imbalance of female to male coaches by recruiting, developing, deploying and retaining 500 female coaches. Research from sports coach UK shows that just 30% of sports coaches are female and of newly qualified coaches each year, only 17% are women.

Project 500 was launched on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013, and has gone from strength-to-strength ever since. The initial two-year pilot successfully recruited and retained over 530 female coaches across a variety of sports and saw the most coaches engaged come from Sussex, closely followed by Berkshire.

sports coach UK have launched Reach (http://reachintocoaching.co.uk/). A national campaign focussing on inspiring more women to get into coaching and once you are coaching supporting you to do so. The Reach campaign was inspired by Project 500 which has provided valuable research and insight to help shape it since its launch in March 2013. It started here in the South East of England – created and developed by Active Surrey, Active Sussex, Leap (Bucks and Milton Keynes Sports Partnership), Get Berkshire Active, Kent Sport, Oxfordshire Sport & Physical Activity and Sport Hampshire & IOW (SHIOW), supported by sports coach UK.

You can connect with us on social media where you can also join in our weekly discussions all about women in sport:

Project 500 Twitter: @femalecoaches    There is also a weekly discussion Womenswednesday

Facebook: Project 500 – More Women Better Coaching

Reach Campaign Twitter: @ReachCoaches

Watch Project 500 in action

In May 2015, Hampshire welcomed Judy Murray to deliver Miss Hits to females from Hampshire and the surrounding counties. Devised by Judy Murray, Miss Hits is aimed at inspiring girls aged 5 to 8 to get involved in tennis in a fun, lively, all-girl environment. Sitting in-line with Project 500’s goals and target audience it is hoped it will be rolled out more widely as a result of the Hampshire event. Take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb7kGDJ6QxQ&feature=youtu.be

Project 500 Ambassador, Wendy Russell, has successfully launched the first deaf hockey programme of its kind in the country through Sportivate funding. Watch the video to find out more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/get-inspired/32162328

Male Ambassador: Wayne Smith

Project 500 are pleased to welcome our latest male ambassador, Wayne Smith a Boxing Coach from Kent.

  “I think initiatives like Project 500 are really important to help get more women into coaching, especially in Boxing. We are a traditionally male dominated sport and it is hard for women to take that first step as a coach. They feel that they won’t get the respect from the males within the club which is completely untrue. Female coaches are growing in our sport and are a huge asset in producing the talent we have such as Nicola Adams, Savanah Marshall and Lisa Whiteside.

  I think in all sports we need more female coaches, it helps with increasing participation and performance levels of both male and female athletes. My advice for any female coach pondering over the idea of entering our sport would be just do it! Don’t worry about what anyone says or thinks, follow your own path. Work hard and reap the rewards!” Wayne is working towards his Level 3 and coaches people of all ages and abilities both male and female throughout the county and is a founding member of the successful Olympia Boxing.

  Olympia deliver boxing sessions in schools and the local community, in addition to that Wayne is also a club coach for Sevenoaks ABC, the Kent County coach and a GB & England Boxing Talent Development coach.

Male Ambassador: Gary Street

Project 500 is delighted to announce Gary Street as the first of its Male Ambassadors of the Month. Gary Street is one of women’s rugby’s most successful coaches of all time. During an 8 year stint as head coach, under his guidance, the England Women’s national rugby team won five Six Nations in a row and two Nations Cup championships, as well as being crowned World Champions in 2014! Gary is now head coach of the Oxford University women’s team. Project 500 has teamed-up with the RFU and Gary to support more females into rugby coaching. We have already hosted a rugby development day and are supporting over 30 coaches through further CPD and training, including World Cup winner Claire Purdy!

Gary has agreed to support Project 500 as a male ambassador and is a keen advocate for increasing the number of female coaches across all sports, to unleash a whole range of previously hidden talents which can only improve sport as a whole. He believes that is time we accept what females have to offer and is willing to guide them in any way he can to help begin their coaching journeys.

Project 500 caught up with Gary at a recent training session at Oxford University. Watch what he had to say about Project 500 and female coaching: http://ow.ly/Waxeh 

#WomensWednesday launch gets coaches talking

As coach developers we are always looking at new and creative ways we can support coaches learn and develop alongside their day to day role. Through Project 500, we have successfully introduced a variety of supportive interventions, including 1:1 coaching clinics, bespoke female only coach education workshops and sub regional networking events, making this project more than just a bank to fund qualifications.

Through our annual survey put to Project 500 coaches and by attending coach development events delivered by National Governing Bodies, it is clear coaches value the opportunity to network with others and get involved in discussions as a form of learning. This can be through sharing examples of best practice, experienced coaches providing tips and recommendations to aspiring coaches, or simply being able to relate to others and connect with your peers.

So how can we connect female coaches on a regular basis?

The virtual world of social media has opened our eyes to how easy it is now to connect with people across the world at the touch of a button. This got us thinking; why not use social media to connect female coaches and provide a platform to network on a regular basis? Why not give coaches a voice and the opportunity to network at a time that suits them at no cost?

And #WomensWednesday was born

On 1 October Project 500, in partnership with the Female Coaching network, launched #WomensWednesday to create a weekly online networking event around women in coaching. Each week we intend to propose different topics to create discussions and debates that all coaches, regardless of gender, can get involved in. Our first topic we opened up to the virtual floor was the subject of stereotypes in coaching, following an interesting article released on the BBC Sport website entitled “Why are men still suspicious of female coaches in sport?”

Coaches were encouraged to share their views on Twitter or post comments on the Project 500 Facebook page as well join in with the online forum hosted by the Female Coaching Network. Much to our delight, the comments and questions came flooding in throughout the launch day and we were delighted to see Project 500 ambassador, Natalie Curtis, and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson get involved in the discussions.


Here is a snapshot of some of the engagement we had over Twitter throughout the launch day of #WomensWednesday

Honest Truth

It was great to see female coaches share their real life experiences they have faced of stereotypes in coaching.  With some, having to prove themselves to their male counterparts proved an issue.  For others, demonstrating they had the skills and knowledge was enough to be seen as equal.

The Female Coaching Network online forum was alive with coaches sharing their stories.

Here is a snapshot of some of the comments on the forum:

A female Track and Field Coach, UK

I have definitely suffered this! I was a football coach for a boys team many many years ago and ended up retiring as all comments made on my coaching were the appearance of my legs in shorts and that as a woman I do not understand football! I moved on to track and field which is a much more ‘equal’ sport with very little stereotype for female coaches.

It’s so great that we can all discuss the same topic from different sports! It seems already that the reoccurring theme is that the ‘ego’ takes over and hides away the professionalism of coaching. Yes, sexism and harassment needs to stop, but maybe its not that the men need to calm down…maybe its women need to step up?

A female Fencing coach, UK

Irrespective of gender, I respect and want respect for a professional approach to coaching. My priorities in coaching are: my students, CPD, respect for my colleagues (and this includes other professionals I work with such as physios, psychologists, S&C coaches, PE teachers, etc.). I just would like to see the same from my colleagues instead of having to deal with the attitude: “oh, she is a women, we can just walk over her.”

A female Tennis coach, Australia

I’m in a different boat for stereotypes – less is expected of me, but I deliver more, I deliver if not more than my male counterparts and now out skill them. So, I’m female but with a high skills set, so the stereotype for this is of a “threat” due to changing norms.

I’m not going to change, nor stop – I will continue to surpass them. And only recently I was overlooked for a less qualified male counterpart, and I can’t help but think if my skills were a threat, or also that I’m female. I like to think it was for my skills, but it’s hard to tell. That said, if we all worked on advancing our skill set and were in even playing grounds to our counterparts, I think it gives us the best chance for challenging the norms.

We are delighted with the successful launch of #WomensWednesday and cannot wait to see what future weeks will bring.  We will continue to work in partnership with the Female Coaching Network and offer different topics for debate.

Please join in and get the chance to network each week with other coaches.  Share your stories, learn from others and don’t forget to use the hash tag #WomensWednesday

Coaching: Pass it on!

Saturday 20 September 2014, Sheffield. It’s a fair old trek from the South coast to Sheffield and I did wonder what was in store for me as a coach delegate attending the England Netball Make the Game Live 2014 conference. As a coach, I sometimes (and will admit this) exist in a bubble that includes me, …