Oceania Football Confederation > News > Coaching > Inaugural FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme begins in Zurich

Inaugural FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme begins in Zurich

New Zealand-based women's coach Gemma Lewis. Credit: OFC via Phototek

As part of FIFA’s commitment to increase the opportunities that exist within football for female coaches, the inaugural FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme began on 29 October 2018 at FIFA’s House of Football in Switzerland.

The new project is designed to support female coaches by enabling them to acquire new knowledge, skills and experience that they can harness in their careers.

Female coaches from all over the world have gathered in Zurich for the two-day workshop, where they will be paired with colossal names of women’s football, allowing them to benefit from invaluable first-hand advice, gain new ideas and share best practice.

Communication between the female coaches and their mentors will continue after the workshop, with the programme concluding in November 2019.

Representing Oceania in this inaugural programme are two female coaches with big futures ahead of them; New Zealand women’s U-20 and U-17 assistant coach Gemma Lewis and Tahiti women’s coach Stephanie Spielmann.

When the participants were announced Lewis, currently coaching the Northern Lights in the National Women’s League, almost couldn’t believe her luck.

“I was so excited to hear about it, I didn’t think it would be something that would happen so soon,” she admitted.

“Getting the opportunity to be mentored by an experienced coach and have FIFA invest in me like this is something I’m really excited about. I’m looking forward to seeing who will be assigned to me as my mentor and it’s an amazing opportunity that has only been given to a select few people.”

Lewis works with many of the country’s best up-and-coming female players on a regular basis as assistant coach of the Future Ferns Domestic Programme (FFDP) and says being part of that initiative has been hugely beneficial to her own development.

“It’s my first opportunity to be a full-time coach so being able to coach four times a week and have regular games has been great. Then being able to work with different coaches and people who will challenge you and support you has been an endless tool for me to continue to develop,” she says.

After a playing career that included international appearances for her native Wales and a stint at English giants Chelsea, Lewis moved into coaching and began on the advanced pathway with New Zealand Football several years ago. She has gone on to earn both her OFC/NZF C-Licence and B-Licence and is currently working towards her A-Licence.

“In each course I’ve done, I’ve learned more and also grown a better network of coaches and support systems. Being able to bounce ideas off other coaches has really helped – I feel like I’m growing year by year and I think that’s mainly because of the support network and the coaching courses I’ve been through.”

New Zealand Football’s aim is for many more female coaches to join Lewis in operating at an elite level and significant steps are being taken towards that, such as the ground-breaking Female Coach Scholarship Programme, regular female-only courses and qualification criteria implemented in the National Women’s League.

“I think it’s a good time to be involved and each year there are more and more opportunities and investment into the female side of the game for coaching,” she says.

“When I first started, there was less support for female coaches so I just took on the support we had for coaches in general and went down that pathway. But, for anyone who is nervous or not as up front in that regard, it’s great they now have a female-friendly environment and have more resources to support them. It all just adds more opportunities to be involved.”

Coach and Mentor pairings

Gemma Lewis: New Zealand Women’s U-20 and U-17 National Team Assistant Coach
Asako Takemoto: Japan Women’s National Team Head Coach (2016-present)

Stephanie Spielmann: Tahiti Women’s National Team Head Coach
Ives Serneels: Belgium Women’s National Team Head Coach (2011-present)

Tahiti women’s coach Stephanie Spielmann.

The FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme comes after FIFA recently launched the first-ever global strategy for women’s football which came earlier this month.

The programme charts the way in which FIFA will work with confederations and Member Associations (MAs), clubs and players, the media, fans and other stakeholders to realise the full potential that exists within the women’s game.

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