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
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.
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
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, …
This is a question not often asked in sport? The reason being is that people can name the appointed ‘head coach’ but they are not aware of the differing roles a coach is expected to play to support her athlete.
Attending the British Athletics Women in coaching conference reinforced the need for coaches to simultaneously juggle the role of sport expert, NGB liaison, minder, personal assistant and ‘mum’ to the athlete without being given guidance or training in these areas. It also reinforced that whilst coaches are encouraged and supported to obtain formal NGB coaching qualifications, this needs to be supplemented with informal knowledge learning in areas that sit outside of the sport specifics yet, vital to perform as a quality coach.
To hear blunt and realistic experiences from elite coaches including Australian sprints and hurdles expert Sharon Hannan who did not have a performance athletics nor sport background and yet, has coached one athlete to an Olympic Gold medal with others on the verge of breaking through the international competition arena with little support was insightful.
• be determined to succeed
• challenge existing practices if they do not suit your athlete’s preparation
• be prepared to offer suggestions to policy makers and practioners who may not understand the need for them or deem change is not required and most importantly
• ‘set the ground rules’
Understanding ones’ self, our learning preference styles, our personality styles through ‘the female chimp explored’ workshop was fascinating as it asked me to outline what my ‘chimp’ does like and dislike and therefore how to respond to this behavioural notion. It also confirmed the personalities I need to identify within my coaching and support entourage. Knowledge learning allows me to improve my delivery style, question trends and practices.
Thanks to Project 500, attending the conference gave me valuable insight and development that, I would not have otherwise had the access to. The conference confirmed that coaching knowledge can be transferred across sports and this practice should be endorsed and encouraged. We are after all, women who want to deliver the best coaching service we can provide.
So, who is the coach?
She is the person who has 100% trust from her athletes, colleagues, peers and family, she is the analysist who pours hours viewing footage to search for one detail that can enhance performance, she is the most important cog in the wheel, supporting the athlete to succeed. Now this has been recognised, we need to ask: ‘how do we pro-actively transfer generic knowledge between female coaches in Britain?’
Wednesday the 23rd July will signify the start of the XX Commonwelath Games. During an amazing 11-days of sport, millions of people around the world will be witness to exceptional feats of sporting talent and prowess. Medals will be won, records broken and tears will be shed. Another generation will be inspired to run, jump, grapple and throw in events ranging from Athletics to Wrestling.
However, what many of the millions of spectators will fail to see are the vast numbers of hours spent in training with a vast array of coaches and volunteers from around the world. And we’re not just talking about the elite coaches who will be representing their respective countries at the Games. We’re also talking about those involved in supporting the very first steps each of the Commonwealth athletes took in order to develop their love, passion and skill within their chosen disciplines.
Its been an amazing first year with over a 1000 women signing up to the project and more than half of our year two target reached.
sports coach UK have supported us every step of the way (thank you) and have now produced a report, based on evidence and research carried out over the course of our first year. Whilst its clear there’s still room for improvement, the initial findings are really positive, so we’ve summarised the key findings and recommendations below: –
- Against an overall target of 500 female coaches, over half (53%, 264 coaches) have been supported so far across 37 different sports. It is also clear to see that a genuine culture of support has been established for the coaches, and they have continued to access this support in a variety of ways.
- The project is not only expanding the female coaching workforce in numerical terms, but developing more highly qualified, skilled and better prepared coaches.For example, over a third (35%, 96 coaches) of the coaches supported so far were unqualified when they registered. A quarter of these (24 coaches) now hold a Level 1 or Level 2 coaching qualification, while 34 coaches who were qualified at registration have been upskilled to a higher qualification level.
- Coaches have also highly valued the more informal learning opportunities they have accessed so far. The networking and workshop events have been particularly well received, and this is reflected in how coaches rated themselves in eight key areas.From their knowledge of coaching to interpersonal skills, goal setting and planning sessions, coaches have developed in all areas since becoming involved in the project, and significantly in terms of their technical/tactical abilities and their confidence to coach.
- Those taking part in the evaluation also say they have had a very positive overall experience in the first year.
While continuing to deliver Project 500 at the current pace will ensure all 500 eventual coaches have a very high quality experience, the research highlighted that we can make things even better in the second year.
- Give all coaches high quality information, advice and guidance after they register on the project. This could include clear information on the specific aims of the project and the benefits for coaches, the different support and opportunities available and regular Project 500 e-mail branded updates to help them feel a part of the project. (See Section 4.1.1 for more details)
- To enhance the already highly valued networking events and workshops, give coaches more time to network with other coaches at the events. Also consider developing an online community (possibly using Facebook) to enable them to stay in touch with each other afterwards. (See Section 4.1.2 for more details)
- The only barrier identified by coaches is finding the time to attend all the events and training. Providing video or audio content of key session speakers and workshops via the Project 500 website could help overcome this and ensure coaches who are unable to attend remain fully engaged. (See Section 4.1.2 for more details)
The great news is that we’ve already begun work to respond to the feedback and we’re really greatful to those who took part in the surveys and more in-depth interviews. Your feedback will ensure not only that we achieve our target, but that we develop a really robust and effective system for supporting female coaches, both in the present time and the future.
We encourage all females to support the programme and look forward to another great year of developing our growing female coaching workforce, and in turn providing more choice for participants, but in particular for girls and women.
If you have any additional feedback, thoughts or ideas, please contact us via Facebook or Twitter. Alternatively you can phone or email your local county coaching lead, who’s details can be found on our Contacts page.
In the first year of the programme we’ve amassed a formidable team of some of the UK’s best and brightest who represent female coaches across the sporting landscape. We’ve been able to produce a series of short interviews with each of these ambassadors with a view to sharing their experiences and personal stories about their journeys through coaching. Each of our ambassadors has a slightly different take on what inspires them to coach, be their best and strive for continuous self-improvement.
Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to meet our latest recruit, Anna Mayes. It was a meeting almost 9-months in the making, over which period I had to developed some cunning investigative skills and a thorough understanding of Twitter in order to secure some face-time with one of England’s brightest coaching stars. Anna is one of the youngest National Team coaches in England, but has a resume that
would be the envy of many experienced coaches much older than the Swindon-born Mayes. Now living in Cardiff, Anna has been part of the national system for more than a decade, first cutting her teeth as a Welsh International player, before getting into coaching in her late teens.
Anna’s passion for coaching is self-evident. During our brief interview it became clear that Anna believes in the power of coaching not only to develop performance, achieve athletic potential and win medals. She is equally excited by coaching’s ability to affect people in very personal ways at a variety of levels in a variety of places across the globe. When discussing some of her early coaching experiences, she sites visits to some of the poorest parts of Africa, where their passion for sport was in no way diluted by their lack of resources. She describes this early coaching experience as ‘humbling’ and a great way for a young player taking their first steps onto the international stage to ‘stay grounded’.
Anna knows that in spite of the investment England Netball made in her and other young coaches like Jess Thirlby and Karen Atkinson, it was a risk to appoint her to the top job in Netball at the tender age of 30. However, its clear that her passion for the game, understanding of coaching and willingness to spearhead a new era of English netball is what set her apart from other worthy candidates. She spoke with great clarity about her desire to create a style of ‘Englishness’ in Netball that was not determined by the the Southern Hemisphere nations (Australia and New Zealand) who have dominated the sport for the past 30-plus years.
“I want England to be No#1 in the world. I want us to be World Champions. I want to be the best coach that I can be and I want to be world leading.”
What’s more interesting is Anna’s desire to influence the game at every level. Not satisfied with changing the game at the elite level, she understands that to create a distinct style of play at the elite level, means developing the game from the ground up. She wants to work with other staff at England Netball, coaches, volunteers and officials to develop a new level of excitement throughout the game, which is much more than about developing champions.
I’ve spoken to a lot of coaches over the years and more than a few have been stumped when asked about their coaching values. In fairness, its not a question that comes up in the vast majority of coach education workshops or qualifications (an issue we plan to tackle over the coming months). Nevertheless, Anna was clear and articulate, explaining that her four main values are: –
- Respect: for each other as players and coaches – “treat others as you would wish to be treated”
- Honesty: this way everyone, including coaches, can hold themselves accountable and words are backed up by action
- Hard Work: as coaches you have to be willing to work as hard as your players
- Trust: the coach leads, but the players have to trust and confidence to follow
Just Do it!
Anna’s message to aspiring female coaches is simple…
“Just do it! I’m passionate about people, I’m passionate about the sport and I love coaching. If you can align yourself to a club and find a mentor, that’s the first few steps, but there is no right or wrong way, just get out there. Do it in your style, embrace the experience and the environment. Its not always going to be plain sailing and its not always going to be enjoyable, but most of the time, its [probably] one of the best jobs in the world.”
Not enough time…
We spoke about so many things in our 30-minute conversation and yet I got the impression we could have talked for hours. Following our chat Anna was rushed into a pre-production meeting for Sky Television’s ZEO National Super League coverage or the NSL Semi-final between visiting Hertfordshire Mavericks against home favourites, Surrey Storm in a match which saw another Project 500 ambassador, player/coach Tamsin Greenway, lead her team to victory. The full interview will be posted in a few days time, so check back in with us towards the end of the week.
In closing we want to thank Anna for her time (we were one of only two non-Commonwealth Games related appointments that Anna will be keeping between now and the Games). Personally I left the interview totally energised and excited that we have secured a powerful ally to promote our work and inspire thousands more coaches to get involved and take that next step into coaching. We’re hoping to entice Anna to support a couple of events over the next 12-months, providing we can drag away her from an already challenging schedule of coaching and academic commitments. At the very least we plan to utilise Anna’s expertise in a series of blogs over the next year, so again watch this space.
Interview by CJ Lee, Coaching Development Manager, Coaching Hampshire & IOW
About 18 months ago The Women’s Sports Network started publishing basic information on the scheduling of Women’s Sport on TV – you asked to be kept updated, but last summer we launched ACTIVEMapX – but our technology and admin resources couldn’t support both services. As a small, unfunded, not-for profit organisation we have to work really hard to support a number of free services for WomenSport & SportsWomen – with just a small group of volunteers.
We promised we would be back . . . and we are. On Monday we launch a completely new approach to women’s sport on screen
TVi – integrates a mix of TV programme listings on scheduled (linear) channels such as BBC, SKY & TraceSPORT . . . plus LIVEStream events direct from event organisers around the world, PLUS some interstitial programming with on-demand services – all listed under ‘TVTimes’ on the new website . This weekend we’ll be covering three international hockey matches from NZ – culminating with the Black Sticks v the Hockeyroos . . . . and the Women’s Junior Surfing Champs in Ecuador. Plus the London Marathon and a re-run of SKY’s Sportswomen.
The new website is here www.wsnet.co.uk – there are still a few small glitches which we are ironing out. If you ‘follow’ our new twitter channel @WSN-TVi – we’ll ‘tweet’ you an hour before all TVi programmes – if it’s a LIVEStream event you can even watch it on your home or tablet!
You’ll see we are launching some exciting additions such as #ShowUP, SportsREPORT & WomenSorts News – and more to come – particularly in the lead up to #GLASGOW2014!
Sports Liberated – To celebrate the launch of our new website – Sports Liberated – the UK’s monthly sports magazine is offering its APRIL edition with a 50% WSNet discount – great value at £2.50 – a barging at £1.25!
Click on the Sports Liberated Logo – and use the code Wsnetpromo
Please do let me know your thoughts – observations, comments, criticisms – we are determined to make sport more available to women and girls.
Best wishes – Jo
Want to watch more WomenSport on TV? Now you CAN with TViPLAYER – follow @WSNTVi for more info