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Lucy Callingham -

What it really feels like to coach a boys team as a Female Coach

Despite having coached several boys teams in the past, I always still get a little bit nervous when starting with a new team, especially when they are teenagers. Having had only one rugby training session with my College U18 squad we took to County 10s Tournament. I always wonder what they think when they first find out their coach is female, I wonder if I should talk them through my credentials, my experience and other teams I coach….but then I think why should I have to justify myself?

On the coach to the County 10s I got a chance to speak properly to the boys outside of a training session and the truth is many of them don’t care that they have a female as coach, instead they think it’s pretty cool. They told me about how there is many other women in their life involved in their rugby clubs, but not in a coaching positions, but see no reason why there isn’t more female coaches. They started asking me how I first got into coaching, who I spoke to to take my first steps and how they could get into it. Conversation soon moved onto my role within county coaching and how I first got into the game. At first I thought are they were starting to question my credentials, but I soon realised they are not questioning me because they doubt my abilities, they are asking because for them I am the first female coach in the game they have met and for them that’s interesting.

When we arrived at the tournament I was also the only female coach or as they call it in Schools Rugby ‘Master’. This automatically made me feel a little out of place inside, but at the end of the day it’s only a title and I’m sure the term is used due to tradition. I often caught members of other teams looking over at me, it can be a bit annoying at times, you know their trying to figure out if you are actually their coach or if you’ve been sent along just to look after the team for the day. It’s oddly something you get used to after a while. I just ignore it and know that I’m going to prove myself when my team take to the pitch…but then again why should I feel more pressure to do well just because I’m female?

My team did really well, they worked their socks off and took on board all I had asked them to do, eventually coming 4th. It was a good event to bond with my team too, I got to know them better as players and they got to know me better as a coach…spending a whole day with them too also gave me a chance to cement all their names in my head !! They got a chance to get used to me and the way I work too, nicknaming me Queen Bee due to the fact the Colleges mascot is a Bee, which I thought was pretty cool. I’m so excited to continue working with them and I’m pretty sure they are with me to….in two days post tournament they have recruited another 6 players!!!

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