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Research Into Female Coach Learners’ Experiences of the UEFA A Licence

'Female coach learners who had attended Level 1, Level 2, and UEFA B courses since 2010, highlighted similar instances of toxic masculinity and the use of sexualised language. In particular, they endured a deeply masculinised environment, deficient in fellow female peers and/or members of staff and, as such, the training became a site of struggle, access, and passive acceptance'....

Rebecca is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire and holds both the UEFA A Licence and FA Advanced Youth Licence. She has extensive knowledge of talent development, has worked within the girls’ RTC and boys’ Academy system in the UK. Additionally, Rebecca has worked with senior women’s players in the Championship, worked for the FA on technical talent camps and held the role of Technical Director at an RTC.

Additional Researchers

Dr William Taylor Bio: Bill is an Honorary Research Fellow at Leeds Beckett University within the ‘Research Centre for Sports Coaching’. He has undertaken research for a number of sporting and policy bodies including the FA. His research interests are in the professionalisation of coaching and coach education.

Dr Colin Lewis Bio: Colin is a Senior Lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University. He is an active researcher in the areas of gender-based violence and inequality in sport, coach education and physical literacy. Colin is also a UEFA B coach and has worked as a coach at Tranmere Rovers LFC, Everton Girls RTC and Liverpool Feds WFC.

Introduction to the study

The research and subsequent publication were born from discussions we have had over a number of years with friends and colleagues who have experienced the UEFA A licence programme delivered at the FA’s National Centre, St Georges Park. They suggested that their experiences were of an educational delivery which was limited in what it offered to female coach learners and the women’s game in general. They described a corrosive atmosphere - one that undermined their efforts to engage fully in the programme and was less than inclusive in content, setting, and delivery.

We set out to interview a number of female coach learners who had made this journey (nine who had participated in various A Licence courses over a 10-year period). This provided them with a voice to air their concerns regarding the training and to see if their individual experiences had common ground with other females who had made similar commitments to the award. The data from the interviews detailed a catalogue of sexist assumptions about the capabilities of female coaches, the use of inappropriate language by male participants and tutors, and a general disregard for and dismissal of the women’s game in all its formats.

What inspired this research?

Not only had we listened to female coaches for a number of years about the trials and tribulations of progressing through the FA’s coaching pathway, but all of us, to varying degrees, have had first-hand experience of seeing the androcentric nature of coaching education within the FA. In addition, some of our earlier work on the experience of females coaches participating in lower awards, had highlighted the difficulties and problems they had to deal with in their desire to engage in coach education and to become better coaches.