top of page
  • shayboydltd

The trophy is in the cabinet. Are the right plans on the table?

Is the current momentum in English women's football going to take advantage of the opportunity it has created? I hope so.

I love the fact that Women's Football has become just football. Rightly so. I can turn a cheek when the media have started to embrace covering the sport and its players credibly too, after extolling that the WSL would never really take off and the Euros were a one-off. I also like the fact the FA are reported to be investing 2 million pounds in girls' grassroots football.

A clear vision and strategy is needed to take sports engagement to the next level. I worked for a company that in 1995 supported grassroots football to the tune of 2 million pounds. The investment supported our mission in football and through our own initiatives and school-based schemes supporting boys and girls football we achieved our goals and ambition. One of my 12 regional coaching advisors and scouts was female, the only FA A licence women's coach at the time. Add to this a desire to reach further into communities through credible activity, an additional partnership helped us reach every football community in the UK. This investment strategy underpinned the company's desire to reach all UK football players through well-structured and inclusive activity through schemes that supported grass roots development and professional club support with solid governance.Our team achieved our objectives, we created a base for growth. We launched new innovative football products and rebuilt a brands reputation with a new audience.

Coaching girls to become more confident and technically improve are skills that coaches need to learn and understand. Young female players do have a head start though. Why? My experience has been working with players who show much stronger balance and coordination skills from an early age, probably developed through learning a wider variety of other sports and taking part in other recreational activities. And, girls are great at listening. If young players commit to trying new skills and techniques without a belief what they are already doing is better this creates a brilliant platform for coaches to accelerate both individual belief and mastery.

England women’s soccer has achieved monumental success. With a fairly diverse management team, which follows the pattern of many international management teams. Is there an appetite to produce world-class coaches and managers to support future schemes, regional and national teams?

My worries? Where and when is this new generation of players going to play and who will coach them?

I know through developing and managing an academy for girls through a local community club that the appetite is there from players and parents, leagues and competition organisers.

The areas that concern me most are school-based activities, who are they delivered by and how are development schemes audited or deemed suitable or relevant. This area needs to remain central to national objectives, not just the aims of professional clubs. Governance needs a clear plan and ruthless management. Longer-term consideration and research should dictate who is best placed to provide an objective view on how player development pathways should continue to grow across all communities targeting players of every ethnicity that make up our national society. Couple this with one other challenge, if school-based programs can be developed, delivered, targeted and governed professionally in a holistic manner, when players want to play on their own, or with clubs where exactly will this new influx of players play? Maybe the football operators can play a role as interim football activity hubs at subsidised rates while new infrastructure and spaces to play are developed.

Time is of the essence though. Momentum needs infrastructure to keep girls and women’s soccer moving forward. New playing spaces, new coaches and governance are key. I hope all the businesses that can make this happen have a solid plan. Andy Murray won Wimbledon but the next generation of British tennis players didn't emerge, let's hope for more accountability and better decision-making to manage the challenges and sustain progress for girls and women's football.

Other relevant links:

About the author

Shay Boyd was responsible for football sponsorship at Adidas UK and is now advising sport businesses and boards through his own consultancy alongside NED and Chair roles with respectively.

36 views0 comments


bottom of page