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Posted in: Coaching News

What would it take for a female coach to lead a top men's football side in England?

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  • robertkmaaye

    Chelsea Women's coach Emma Hayes has been linked with the men's job, should Maurizio Sarri leave this summer.

    I’m interested to know if realistically you could see that happening?

    I personally think we still have a way to go for premier league clubs (especially the top 6) but that lower down the leagues we might not be as far away as you think.

    Do you agree?

    In your opinion what would it take for a female coach to lead a top men's side in England?

  • Coach_Nat

    I think it would be amazing to see if it did happen and would certainly be Chelsea flying the flag for female coaches in general, but I agree that we have a way to go and that lower down the leagues would probably be the place that female coaches started in the men's game, for whatever reasons that might be. 

    I think female coaches are under-represented across most sports and that even the link that Hayes is being considered/talked about is great to bring this to the forefront of news and discussions. Hopefully it won't be too long but I can't imagine it going smoothly when it does and I dread to think what the reactions of some fans may be! 

    I think there are some amazing female coaches out there in football, Laura Harvey, Emma Hayes and Casey Stoney to name a very small number. But to coach in the Premier League I think it would take a huge backing from the club as a whole and some social perceptions to be challenged. With women's sport, especially football, being pushed even more into the forefront of sports news and media coverage it will hopefully begin to showcase female coaches as well as the athletes. 

    But also there begs the question whether they would want to move to the men's game? 

    Yes it would bring more income, but they're also passionate about promoting the women's game. 

    Would be interesting to get Hayes and others' opinions! 

  • Coach_Browning

    Certainly a very interesting scenario. I think that we have two clashing aspects to this, one of which the video articulates and one which they skirt around but is clearly there. 

    First there is the merit argument - is she qualified for the job? Now you could define qualified in numerous ways, but even the quickest of searches on her brings back a career that has been incredibly successful at a variety of levels and working with both club and international players. Not only that but she has run an academy so understands player development. If it was a man with those credentials then the debate wouldnt be a debate. 

    Which leads to the second point. The reason why it is a debate is solely down the gender issue. This is the real crux of it. Essentially we have the real question of "can a women lead a group of elite male athletes in a game that is still seen as a mans' environment"

    For me the real interesting developments have been in American Football. Recently more and more women have broken down the barriers and have been incorporated into coaching ranks. These women are coming from the top of their game but still had to 'prove' themselves.

    The way it was done was basically how the video here alludes. Jumping straight into a senior coaching position - no matter what we think about ability - is a jump too far. There is just too much cultural inertia to break down. They have been brought into junior posts. This establishes them in the environment. This allows the next one to take the next step and become a full time coach... and then the next step. 

    For example how it has developed in NFL with Tampa Bay just hiring 2 female coaches

    So what would it take in football?

    As noted in the article...you need an equivalent of someone like Bruce Arians. Someone who is willing to start that process off, bring someone in, give them all the support they need and the conviction to see it through. In the face of the media. In the face of the fans. To meet the inevitable vitriol unflinchingly.  

    Which means you also have to have upper management/ownership fully behind it and prepared to see it through to the end. 

    It takes time. It is hard to break down the cultural inertia. but it can be done. The likes of Jen Welter, Becky Hammon (NBA) and Amelie Mauresmo (Tennis) have shown that women can coach elite male athletes (team and individual) with a high level of success. 

    But it has to start somewhere. As noted, its a process. Whether we like it or not, or agree with it or not, jumping straight to the top - certainly in the EPL - would be too much too soon. Women need to become a fixture in the sport first before we can really legitimately start talking of a female HC. The NBA and NFL are light years ahead of football and yet they are still far away from a female HC of a major mens franchise

    I guess another question would be... Would Emma Hayes be willing to take a non-HC position in the mens team in order to kick start this process off? 

  • Coach_Browning

    An interesting follow up to the above - showing how the new female coaches are fitting in

    http://www.espn.com/blog/tampa-bay-buccaneers/post/_/id/22524/theyre-just-coaches-bucs-female-assistants-make-early-impression

    With regards to the process it has taken 4 years to get to this point. As noted in the article...

    Locust and Javadifar are now part of a small but growing pipeline of female coaches around the league. Jen Welter became the first female coaching intern under Arians with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. Kathryn Smith because the first full-time female assistant in 2016, when the Buffalo Bills hired her as their special teams quality control coach. The San Francisco 49ers hired Katie Sowers as an offensive assistant in 2017.

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