Why the barriers for female coaches must be eliminated

Heather Garriock Canberra

Last Monday night (May 24) saw Football Coaches Australia (FCA), in tandem with representatives from all across the Australian football family, invest their time into a FCA Women’s Football Webinar discussion around the immense challenges facing Australia’s female football coaches in the pursuit of their careers.

The panel discussion, hosted by Aish Ravi, who is currently undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy with a focus on women’s coaching education in football, FCA CEO Glenn Warry and Matildas legend Heather Garriock (FCA Vice-President, Football Australia ‘Starting XI’ representative and current CEO of Australian Taekwondo), aimed to provide insight into the barriers for female coaches in Australian football, and by extension, wider society.Garriock Profile Photo

Notably, Heather Garriock’s role as CEO at Australian Taekwondo reflected not just the difficulties in finding roles as a female footballer or coach after one finishes their playing career, but the loss of talented and passionate individuals to roles away from football.

“If we don’t start investing in our females within our game, we are going to start losing them. And as we can see with Heather, we’ve lost someone who’s played over 100 games for Australia and has been a pioneer in the women’s game. For me, that is really sad to see,” remarked Western Sydney Wanderers legend Catherine Cannuli.

Cannuli, who balances her time between her seasonal duties as assistant coach at Western Sydney Wanderers and as the Women’s Technical Director at the Southern Districts Soccer Football Association, admitted to facing a dilemma in how to progress her career to where she wants it to be because of a lack of stability in women’s coaching roles that are typically part-time.

Cannuli Coaching“For me now, I’m in a very hard place. Being a new mother, having to worry about my son now and wanting to have that stability, if I want to progress my career and make the step towards becoming a full-time head coach in a professional environment,” she said.

“For me, I’m in a very stable situation with my association, but is it where I want to be? If I want to progress as a head coach and get into that professional side, do I take stability in my full-time role or do I take the risk in becoming a head coach in a part-time role?”

Perth Glory legend and manager of Bristol City through three Women’s Super League (WSL) seasons since 2018, Tanya Oxtoby, acknowledged that despite the fact that the WSL is a full-time setup there are some critically similar challenges facing both the W-League and WSL.

“It’s a full-time role. All the players are full-time, all the stability that Catherine was talking about, we have that. But there are still similar barriers in having to fight for those rights every single day. And that’s a shame that in 2021 we are still having to push the boundaries and ask for what is fair. It doesn’t come voluntarily and that’s a shame unfortunately,” she said. Tanya Oxtoby Photo

And in response to Garriock pondering what is fair, Oxtoby conveyed: “For me, I’ve just had a little boy and changing attitudes towards coaches, whether you’re a female coach coaching men’s football or women’s football, has to change. That for me is what’s fair; seeing people through equal eyes and that does not always happen. Trying to educate people on what’s appropriate and what’s not, it’s difficult, and you’ve got to be a strong character to go through that.

Aish Ravi, in her studies on the experiences of female coaches in Australia, has worked to understand the strategies that can be formulated to overcome these challenges.

“From what I understand, the literature tells us that women are underrepresented in coaching football and there are very few women in some of these positions from coaching all the way through to analyst positions and to Technical Director positions,” she said.Aish Ravi Photo

“In terms of lived experience, from what I understand and what the literature says, women do feel highly scrutinised in some of these positions and there is a pressure to overperform and gain credibility. And sometimes that can be afforded to others as opposed to some women. So, we do need to find out what these strategies are in the context of the unique Australian footballing landscape, as they can then be provided to inform these organisations on how to improve the space for women coaches.”

What proved to be particularly pertinent was the lived experience of an attendee in the webinar.

As a female coach making the transition between working in a major city’s footballing environment to the setup in a smaller rural town, the attendee remarked how astronomically challenging it is to grow the women’s game because of a lack of initiative on the part of the outfit who runs football there. And critically, the opposition to change stems from a board that is bereft of female representation.

Ros Moriarty, Chair at the Football Australia Women’s Council and Managing Director and Co-founder of John Moriarty Football, spoke on the inequality in workplace culture in Australian football.Ros Moriarty Photo

“A workplace is a workplace, and football is a workplace. If a coach is being paid for her work, then she can expect that a workplace will have the basic tenants that we all hope and wish for, and fight for; that you don’t have to ask for things that are simply part of you doing your job,” she said.

“Culture is about attitude and it’s about respect, but I think culture also plays into structure. We have a problem in Australia because we don’t have a full home and away season for the W-League, so coaching in the W-League isn’t full-time. So, the Women’s Council have been pressing for a really long time about making sure under the new arrangements with the clubs that full home and away eventuates.”

With a Women’s World Cup to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023, the time to start delivering on the passion for the women’s game is now, not in two years when it is beneficial to a select few in the short term. There is impetus, as there always has been, for all stakeholders to help lead change in the women’s football space.

And despite the fact that the resilience of Australia’s female footballing contingent has been perpetually undervalued all throughout its history, there remains a constant drive and determination to instigate change in Australia football for players and coaches. Discussions, like the one that took place on Monday, mirror this sentiment. Moreover, it is essential for Australian football’s variety of stakeholders to take in and to learn from the discussion that was had in order to aid in the fight for equality in Australian football.

Support initiatives for coaches introduced by Football Queensland

Football Queensland (FQ) have announced a strengthening of its support of coaches at all levels of the game with the launch of a range of new coach development initiatives in recent weeks.

Football Queensland (FQ) have announced a strengthening of its support of coaches at all levels of the game with the launch of a range of new coach development initiatives in recent weeks.

The platform, entitled Coaching Knowledge Base, has been created by FQ’s Club Development Unit. The technical resources provided are designed to support both community and advanced club coaches and to address some of the challenges facing coaches across the state.

FQ’s knowledge sharing initiative in coach education and support is critical to the fostering of a positive coaching culture and the improvement of experiences of participants.

The Coaching Knowledge Base allows for easy access for all coaches and clubs to tailored content centred around Players, Training, Game Day and Administration, plus Development Webinars, Coach the Coach Interviews and Training Videos.

“It has been fantastic to see an increase in coaching registrations in 2021 with over 6,000 coaches currently registered across the state,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

“Improving development opportunities while providing additional levels of support for coaches at every level of the game is a strategic focus of Football Queensland’s, not only for the benefit of the coaches themselves but also for participants, ensuring all coaches across the state are equipped to deliver enjoyable participation experiences.

“FQ is committed to supporting all registered coaches in their development, which is why we are excited to launch a host of new coach support initiatives including the new Coaching Knowledge Base webpage, Coach the Coach feature and monthly coaching newsletter.”

Gabor Ganczer, State Technical Director, expressed his excitement at the rollout and implementation of these initiatives.

“Created by Football Queensland’s Club Development Unit, the new Coaching Knowledge Base houses a suite of collateral for Queensland coaches including technical resources and training videos, development webinars, and Football Australia resources, and is also designed to improve clubs’ capacity to deliver a best practice youth development program,” he said.

“The new Coach the Coach segment launched by FQ in recent weeks will feature a Technical Director, Club Coach Coordinator and Coach Educator to provide an insight into the strategies and initiatives implemented at their club to support the professional development of their club coaches.

“The recently introduced coaching newsletter also provides registered coaches with regular updates on the latest initiatives and practices being implemented by FQ.

“The implementation of these new initiatives will not only support the thousands of coaches across Queensland, but will also assist clubs in creating a positive learning and development environment for coaches of all qualifications.”

New resources and content will be added to Coaching Knowledge Base on a monthly basis. It can be accessed by clicking here.

Football Tasmania launches Coaching for Women Scholarship program

Football Tasmania Scholarship

Football Tasmania has announced the launch of their Coaching for Women Scholarship program, an initiative which reaffirms the state’s recent focus on female participation within the sport. The program is an important step towards growing participation across all areas of the game for women and girls.

The Scholarship aims to address the lack of female representation within the state and wider country’s coaching ranks, with women from clubs and associations with states encouraged to reach out and apply.

At least five female coaches will be provided with Scholarships and the subsequent opportunity to complete the Football Australia ‘C’ Licence course. This will consist of at least one participant from each region – North West, Northern Tasmania and Southern Tasmania.

Each Scholarship includes a $1,200 contribution towards the course fee for the FA ‘C’ Licence course. Additionally, successful applications will have their attendance to the 2021/22 coaches conference included in the Scholarship.

Going forward, coaches will receive continuous support from Football Tasmania’s Coach Development Manager, David Smith, and Female Development Officer, Debra Banks. The successful Applicants will be required to complete the Scholarship within 18 months and attend the 2021/22 Football Tasmania State Coaching Conference.

Furthermore, an opportunity will be potentially offered to participants of the Scholarship program to travel interstate as an assistant coach at the Girls National Youth Championship in 2022.

Plans to increase participation across all areas of football are what is driving the initiative behind Football Tasmania’s Women’s Scholarship program.

The state’s governing footballing body is seeking to increase female participation to at least 30% total, whilst raising the number of active coaches and referees with accreditation by 15%.

With this program, Football Tasmania have recognised the significance of the raising awareness of and strengthening of the pathways for players, coaches and referees. As a result, strong and effective relationships with clubs can be better maintained in order to deliver tangible value for all stakeholders. Moreover, initiatives that subsequently recognise and reward achievements and successes in the game at all levels can champion the game for the state as a whole.

For those interested, the application form can be accessed here.

Football Coaches Australia and XVenture announce John Moriarty Football scholarships

In National Reconciliation Week 2021, Football Coaches Australia is pleased to present FCA XVenture Essential Skills program scholarships to Tiffany Stanley and Bryce Deaton, who both coach for John Moriarty Football.

In National Reconciliation Week 2021, Football Coaches Australia is pleased to present FCA XVenture Essential Skills program scholarships to Tiffany Stanley and Bryce Deaton, who both coach for John Moriarty Football (JMF).

Australia’s Reconciliation theme for 2021 is ‘More than a word’. Reconciliation takes action, action which urges the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful progress.

Providing Tiffany and Bryce with this FCA XV scholarship opportunity will support them to achieve their goals on their coaching journey.

In awarding the FCA XV scholarships FCA Glenn Warry said: “FCA strongly believes that much more can be done to encourage and support Indigenous Australians to become qualified coaches. At the moment, there are very few Indigenous coaches in the Australian football ecosystem. This is a concerning reality and one we would like to help address now and in the coming years.”

JMF is Australia’s most successful and longest-running Indigenous football program. A transformational skills mastery initiative for 6–18-year-olds, JMF uses football for talent and positive change, improving school attendance and achieving resilient, healthier outcomes in Indigenous communities.

Each week JMF reaches nearly 2,000 Indigenous children in 18 communities across four regional hubs in Dubbo (NSW), Kuranda (QLD), Tennant Creek (NT) and Borroloola (NT).

JMF Co-Founder and Co-Chair and the first Aboriginal to be selected to play football for Australia, John Moriarty, said: “We are very proud of Tiffany and Bryce and their achievements. One of JMF’s biggest strengths is our local coaches of which 63 percent are Indigenous and 40 percent are female.

“Local employment and capacity building is at the heart of what we do and Tiffany and Bryce are wonderful ambassadors for us. Both have achieved a great deal and it is because of their hard work we’ve been able to change the lives of so many Indigenous children and their families,” Mr Moriarty added.

A key focus of JMF is “building local staff capacity through mentoring, education and skills development to access best practice ideas and experience”. These scholarships will support that focus.

Wiradjuri woman Tiffany Stanley is a Community Coach at JMF’s Dubbo hub and is currently the holder of the AFC/FA C License.

“I’ve been coaching for almost two years and I believe it’s only the beginning for me. I want to become the best coach I can be and I believe that this scholarship will give me the opportunity to better myself, help my football coaching knowledge and to help me achieve my educational and coach career goals which are to have a positive mindset and attitude,” she said.

“I want to become a great leader and role model for young Indigenous kids. My biggest goal would be to become the first Indigenous woman to coach the Matildas.”

Aniwan man Bryce Deaton is Head Coach and Mentor at JMF’s Dubbo hub and is currently the holder of an AFC/FA Youth C License.

“This scholarship would give me the opportunity to expand my understanding of how I can improve the way I interact with players and coaches to ensure that I am able to give them the best support they need to succeed in what they want to do, especially in football,” he said.

“I am a huge advocate that coaching has evolved where we are no longer coaching a team, but a group of individuals, where everyone learns, strives, and understands at completely different levels, and as coaches we need to ensure a player is developing continuously.

“I would love to continue through my Coaching Qualifications (including GK levels) to strengthen my contribution to regional NSW football and then on to the elite club level as a GK coach. My biggest goal would be to develop elite programs to continually produce the next players to bring success to the national team.”

Founder of XVenture Mike Conway works with, and mentors, elite players and coaches worldwide.

“We are delighted to be able to support the future of Australian coaching talent with these scholarships for the John Moriarty Foundation. Their work is so important,” he said.

“The more we can provide positive learning, growth and development opportunities for young coaches, the brighter their lives and the future of our game will be.”

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