The recent unprecedented success of England’s development teams is testament to the excellent work undertaken at St. George’s Park in recent years.
A clear development pathway integrated across the teams has raised standards and delivered results across all age groups, men’s, women’s and disability.
However, we recognise there is more that can be done to further improve the environment and experience of everyone involved with the England teams – and a number of measures will be put in place.
For the rest of the 2017-18 season, FA CEO Martin Glenn will oversee a sustained focus on enhancing the culture around the England Women’s team. This work will be led by Baroness Sue Campbell, FA director of women’s football, supported by the head of women’s performance, David Faulkner.
This will focus on addressing the cultural challenges in creating an environment at the elite end of the women’s game that does not just rely on the talented players we have today, but is supported by a systematic pathway and performance support to both The FA WSL, regional training camps and every England age group.
Baroness Campbell will be responsible for all non-technical decisions across the women’s game while FA technical director Dan Ashworth will have ultimate accountability for technical decisions. This is an interim measure to enable Ashworth to focus on the men’s teams in the build-up to the World Cup in June and to embed changes to the coach education set-up.
The England Women’s team will take part in UK Sport’s new cultural health check programme. The programme is designed to help create positive winning cultures, shine a light on what is working well, provide a better early warning system to highlight problems and enable early action to be taken to address them as well as providing a secure and anonymous way for players and staff to report problems and seek support.
Faulkner will also take on responsibility for the Futsal and disability teams. He has previous experience of working with Paralympic athletes and will work to ensure that vulnerable adults in our care receive the same standards of care and benefit from the environment at St. George’s Park.
Events of the past year had already made us well aware that we were lacking in a grievance and whistleblowing policy for our national teams. A new policy has been produced in partnership with UK Sport and will be available to all players and for other sports to share.
In addition to whistleblowing and grievance policies we are also working with UK Sport to produce policies for codes of conduct for both players and coaches.
We have developed a bespoke training programme on the topic of player care for our national coaches in partnership with UK Sport and Kick It Out that will deal with current-day issues such as the differences between hard coaching/bullying, diversity and inclusion and mental health awareness training. This is being piloted in January and February of this year.
We are working with the Professional Footballers’ Association to identify a group of talented BAME coaches to work with England teams in order to gain a deeper understanding of how national teams are run and, in turn, visibly demonstrate opportunities for BAME players in the wider football workforce.
This initiative will run alongside current FA programmes such as Player to Coach, BAME specialist coaching roles and the BAME mentee programme, and will start in 2018. Talented BAME coaches will be offered positions across a range of England teams.
The principles of a voluntary Rooney Rule will be formally adopted by the England team set-up. This will ensure that at least one BAME candidate will be interviewed for every role as long as such a candidate has applied and meets the recruitment criteria.
Following feedback while working on the grievance procedures we have decided to trial two new roles between March 2018 and the end of the World Cup that will offer welfare support and advice to all players on camp and around St. George’s Park.
These new liaison officers will be recruited from a BAME background and will work with the current education and welfare set-up across the wide range of England teams.