Call for women to become coaching leaders

Fort William's Kirsty Delaney was a winner of the 2019 Highland Young Coach of the Year. Kirsty not only impressed as a primary school shinty coach and manager, but coaches many other sports

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In the week of International Women’s Day, the UK’s leading charity for sports coaching is calling for more women to enter the coaching workforce.

And it believes female coaches will be ‘fundamental’ as the nation recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

UK Coaching exists to support and develop the nation’s three million coaches and this week outlined its ambition for gender equity within coaching over the next five years.

Pre-pandemic, female coaches made up 43 per cent of the workforce, down from 46 per cent in 2017. And this number may continue to fall upon return to play, as it is anticipated that only half of coaches are expected to return to paid positions.

In the last year, proactive measures have been put in place in a bid to increase the number of female high-performance coaches, who currently make up 10 per cent of all performance coaching roles.

UK Sport recently launched its leadership programme in a bid to double the representation of female coaches in the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community by Paris 2024. The programme involves leading coaches mentoring a cohort of 19 through a six-month course that aims to help them reach the top of their respective sports.

And to ensure talented coaches have the opportunity to join the high-performance pathway, UK Coaching has also recently introduced its own female leadership programme, working with national governing bodies to develop female coaches and elevate the positions of women in coaching across all sports at the base of the performance pathway.

Yet with UK Coaching’s research showing the importance of female role models and activity levels among this group lower than that of their male counterparts, the organisation believes female coaches will be fundamental as the nation rebuilds after the pandemic.

Emma Atkins, director of coaching at UK Coaching said: ‘We want to see more women come into coaching, be supported to stay in coaching and, if it is their goal, progress to coaching in talent and high-performance sport.

‘Gender equality in sport has made considerable strides in recent years but we must move towards a balanced coaching workforce – and that means showing women that coaching is for them. It is an incredibly rewarding experience. We need more female coaches and we are calling on sports organisations to work with us in our mission to achieve an equitable 50/50 split in the next five years.

‘Our research shows that it’s really important that when starting to get active, women and girls are more comfortable if their coach is the same gender. With the levels of inactivity amongst women and girls at a high, it is vital that we can encourage more females to join the coaching workforce.’

To find out how you can get into coaching, or how UK Coaching can support gender balance within your own coaching workforce, visit