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FA launch new initiative for top coaches in elite women's football

The English Football Association (FA) has announced the launch of its news Coaching Excellence Initiative, created to develop and connect high-performance coaches working in the elite women’s game.


14 coaches have been selected for the inaugural programme, which will provide them with a bespoke, high-quality coaching development experience through one-to-one support from dedicated team mentors.

The coaches will receive individual and collective learning opportunities at regular workshops and interventions to support their individual and collective needs, unique to the experiences faced in women’s football.

The initiative will be delivered annually via group gatherings in high performance environments, peer mentoring and individual support. It will advance the coaching and leadership ability of selected senior coaches working in the women’s elite game, including the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship and the England Women’s pathway.

The 14 coaches for the 2020-21 programme were selected following an application process, which included individual assessment and interviews with players, General Managers and technical staff at relevant clubs and national teams. The coaches are:

  • Carla Ward, Birmingham City WFC Manager

  • Charlotte Healy, Manchester United WSL Academy Manager

  • Gemma Davies, Aston Villa WFC Head Coach

  • Gemma Donnelly, Blackburn Rovers WFC Manager

  • Gemma Grainger, England WU17 Women’s National Head Coach

  • Joe Sheehan, Ipswich Town WSL Academy Head Coach & First Team Manager

  • Karen Hills, in between roles

  • Leanne Champ, Chelsea WFC Technical Coach

  • Lydia Bedford, England Women’s U18s Development Phase Head Coach

  • Melanie Reay, Sunderland AFC Ladies Head Coach

  • Riteesh Mishra, Charlton Athletic WFC Head Coach

  • Stephanie Libbey, Durham WFC First Team Coach

  • Tanya Oxtoby, Bristol City WFC Manager

  • Vicky Jepson, in between roles

The programme will become a mainstay of the FA's commitment to the 'Inspiring Positive Change' strategy, to provide coaches personalised and high-quality experiences.

"The Coaching Excellence Initiative is central to our commitment to see the top coaches in the women’s game become the very best they can, providing them with the development and learning opportunities to achieve their potential and fulfil their ambitions," started Audrey Cooper, head of women’s coaching development at the FA.

"Living well beyond the 18-month course, it will provide the coaches with a support network to share their experiences as they continue in their career. This programme will also support our broader ambition to normalise women in football coaching, shining a light each year on aspirational, relatable and credible female role models for future generations to be inspired by.

"Whether you are female or male, it’s my belief that there’s never been a more exciting time to be a coach in the women’s game."

The Coaching Excellence Initiative follows a record number of female coaches taking their FA Level 4 (UEFA A Licence) and the announcement of our Elite Coach Placement Programme which sees Rachel Yankey, Fara Williams and Coreen Brown begin season-long coaching placements with England's Women’s development teams.



Author: Jake Wilkin

Image by Frédéric Perez

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