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Female Coach Scholarship Programme kicks off

Football Fern Annalie Longo is among the early recipients of the Female Coach Scholarship Programme. Credit: OFC via Phototek

A batch of the country’s most promising female coaches have come together to take their first steps on New Zealand Football’s ground-breaking Female Coach Scholarship Programme.

A total of 21 coaches from across the country are set to receive support from New Zealand Football as part of the unique programme, including Football Ferns midfielder Annalie Longo and several players with National Women’s League experience such as Rebekah van Dort, Coral Seath and Jade Morrissey.

Four of the successful applicants also currently work as Women’s Development Officers for one of the seven federations in Longo (Mainland Football), Emma Evans (Capital Football), Hayley Stirling (Northern Football) and Jasmine Quilligan (WaiBOP Football).

Some are already on New Zealand Football’s Coach Development Pathway and are in the midst of completing courses but most will be receiving their first taste of formal coach education as part of the programme.

“It’s an exciting group of coaches with a range of backgrounds from all over the country,” says New Zealand Football Women’s Development Manager Holly Nixon.

“To be able to bring them together with a common purpose of becoming the best coaches they can be is special. They are role models in football and futsal, not only for the players they coach but also for other aspiring female coaches or leaders, showing that women can do great things in these positions. This group of coaches are challenging the traditional structures of what is predominantly a male-led environment.”

The Female Coach Scholarship Programme has been introduced by New Zealand Football to grow the number of female coaches within the advanced coaching pathway – an area that is currently under-represented by females – and applications were open to all women actively involved in football or futsal. The programme aims to create a safe, empowered and confidence-building environment. The financial barrier is being reduced as part of the programme but the most important component is to create a supported network so the coaches have a space in which to grow.

“Under-representation is common place throughout the world, for example in the last two Olympic Games only 11 per cent of the coaches for all sports were female,” Nixon explains.

“FIFA has implemented a global strategy to help change this and provide opportunities, which is that all age-group teams at a World Cup must have a female within the coaching team and we have trickled this down into our club licencing criteria in our National Women’s League. Despite women being vastly under-represented in coaching, it’s obviously not a merit issue as female-coached teams have won 92 per cent of FIFA Women’s World Cups, Olympic golds and European championships since 2000.”

The programme kicked off this week with an introductory workshop at QBE Stadium in Auckland, during which the participants were inspired and motivated by a range of highly respected presenters.

“You can always tell the success of a workshop if those around you don’t want to leave,” Nixon says.

“It was different from what we have done in the past. It was an opportunity for the coaches to reflect and develop themselves. We were very privileged to have two phenomenal leaders, Pauline Harrison and Claire Boyens, come in and inspire us, as well as some of New Zealand’s top coaches providing insights into their coaching lives.”

Nixon says there are a number of factors which have traditionally hindered women from getting involved in coaching and that New Zealand Football is working hard to break these down as female coaches play an important role in growing the number of girls and women playing and loving the game.

“Diversity in leadership and coaching behaviours and skills are crucial as they have a direct impact on successful outcomes,” she says.

“We are pleased to be at the forefront of this movement by providing an exciting new scholarship programme and are looking forward to seeing more females coaching our elite teams in the future as a result.”

Female Coach Scholarship Programme recipients:

Eilish Graves (WaiBOP Football), Tania Neill (Mainland Football), Bernadette Goulding (Auckland Football), Lenore Richards (Mainland Football), Samantha Kendrick (Capital Football), Katie Duncan (Auckland Football), Jade Morrissey (Auckland Football), Sarah Alder (Capital Football), Carmen Harji (Capital Football), Rebekah van Dort (Auckland Football), Penelope Ward (Northern Football), Emma Evans (Capital Football), Hayley Stirling (Northern Football), Katie Barrott (Capital Football), Annalie Longo (Mainland Football), Shannan Smith (Capital Football), Coral Seath (Football South), Ashleigh Taylor (Auckland Football), Tracy Wrigley (Auckland Football), Jasmine Quilligan (WaiBOP Football), Joanne Lamozza (Northern Football)

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