St. George’s Park welcomed a delegation of female and BAME coaches from across the country last week.
Over 60 coaches, some attached to professional clubs, others working in grassroots, and all beneficiaries of an FA bursary to help them attain further qualifications, heard from a series of speakers, including FA tutor Butch Fazal, on how to best work through the coaching pathway.
And Wayne Allison, FA BAME Project Manager, was enthused with the turnout.
He said: “This was about welcoming this year’s coaches to The FA Coaching Bursary Programme which began in 2011 and is aimed specifically at those from minority communities.
“We have now widened the application criteria so that those from under-represented groups in the coaching world can apply, which is why a good portion of today’s attendees are women.”
One such attendee was Rebecca Burton from Acle United Ladies in Norwich.
She said: “Without this bursary I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to put myself on the UEFA B, so it’s helped massively.
“It makes everything a bit more accessible and the contribution towards the UEFA B is priceless and I imagine it is the same for everyone else here too.
“Once you get a little bit of assistance to get a foot on the coaching ladder, it gives you the inspiration to progress further, and for some under-represented groups getting this assistance will make a massive difference to their coaching careers.”
Richard Austria, currently coaching at Fulham FC Foundation, was equally as positive.
He added: “The support that this scheme will give to under-represented groups in football is immeasurable.
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“Without it I wouldn’t be able to progress as I am doing, and so to have it available to me now is going to really help me along my path.
“It’s also been a great chance to meet people. I have met a few people today who have come from all over the place - they’re from different clubs and are working with different types of players, and so it has been nice to have the chance to meet other coaches in a similar situation as me.
“Long-term I am hoping to be a career coach in the professional game, so this is what I am hoping this programme will lead me to eventually. That’s the plan and this bursary has certainly helped me along the way. It would have been more of a struggle without it.”
Allison concluded: “Hopefully through this programme, like the COACH bursary scheme which preceded receded it, can help coaches move a step closer to becoming career coaches, and we will have more BAME and more female coaches in the system, that want to help grassroots, some will be aspirational and will want to go into the professional game.
“That will increase the talent pool of BAME and female coach talent pools, which are communities that are under-represented in English football and that’s something we all want to address.”