There are not many whose reputation would be marked with words such as ‘pioneer’, ‘mentor’, ‘friend’, ‘inspiration’ and ‘coach’, but those are the words being used to describe Doncaster Belles legend, Julie Chipchase, who sadly lost her battle with cancer this week.
We were saddened to learn of Julie's passing – better known as ‘Chippy’ to those that knew her – having spent 15 years working for the organisation in various roles.
Her CV is a long list of achievements and accolades, having made her name with the legendary Doncaster Belles, winning the FA Cup as a player, and managing the side in the competition’s final in 2000 against Croydon.
Her affiliation with the club lasted right up until her passing, having performed virtually every role possible at the Belles since joining as a player in the 1970s, with her most recent role being director of football, while also sitting on the club’s board.
As well as the Belles, Chipchase went onto work with Leeds United and the England Women’s teams, being involved from U15s right through to the senior setup.
The outpouring of messages from those she coached was clear to see on social media this week. One of those came from England defender Gemma Bonner, a two time Barclays FA Women’s Super League winner with Liverpool, who posted on Twitter: “I am so grateful to have learnt so much from Chippy at both Leeds + England .. True legend who worked so hard to pave the way for so many other women in football.”
Chipchase was one of the first female UEFA Coach Educators, holding a UEFA Pro License, and was part of the UEFA A License workforce supporting and developing the next generation of coaches.
Friend and former colleague, Tony McCallum, acknowledged her skills and credentials as a coach, as well as her emergence as a coach developer.
“Julie’s mission was a simple one; ‘ To help make people better’,” he said.
As well as her coaching, Chipchase was also a mentor within the FA Education team.
She was equally at home at the top of the game as she was introducing inexperienced volunteers to the craft of coaching, embodying passion, warmth and expertise.
Across our coach education workforce, she was not the loudest member of the team, but she didn’t need to be. She had the respect of those she nurtured and mentored and it was what she said that was important – not how loudly she said it.
Lucy Pearson, our director of FA Education who worked closely with Chipchase, said: “Julie was a dedicated professional, who took her role and her football very seriously. She was all about loyalty, determination and commitment; she loved helping others to succeed and would fight for equality and fairness. She demanded and fought for positive change for the women’s game and has played a big part in helping the game be where it is today.
“And she was always armed with a smile and a twinkle in her eye. She never lost sight of the fact that football is there to be enjoyed. It’s about having fun and being part of a team. She loved it and she loved the people she shared her football journey with.”
The thoughts of everyone at the FA are with the family and friends of Julie, as well as those she played with, coached and mentored.
In honour of Chipchase’s impact on the women’s game, a minute’s applause will be held across all Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixtures ahead of kick-off this Sunday.