Time to Move On?
This year I have achieved many things: I became a Coach Developer for BAFA, learning from the best
Master Trainers from USA Football; I was elected to the board of BAFCA (British American Football Coaches Association); I work with an NFL team as part of their UK operations; I am a Coach Educator, I coach for GB Lions, but most prominently, I am Head Coach of an exciting and upcoming university team.
I have sat many times wondering – where do I go from here? Surely I have reached the peak of what can only be described as a rollercoaster ride of football. The conclusion I have reached is that this is only the beginning. This is where I start, not where I finish, and maybe not to for the reasons of football alone. I am here for the long haul – I want to make football coaching for women one of the ‘go to’ sports in the UK. And this is why…
I was recently invited to an event, a multi sports event. As is common, I was the only female coach in attendance and, as is even more common, I was treated like ‘one of the guys’. It was a conversation at this event that gave me the lightbulb moment. This was an event that I knew few people at, and the first question I was asked was, “You coach women?” – my answer was, “No, I coach football.” The gender stereotyping was in play, but this was not my lightbulb moment. That came next…
“How many coaches like you are there?” I was a little confused by the question – a ‘coach like me’? The guy I spoke to went on to explain that he had only met female coaches that were either PE Teachers or coached solely women. I explained that there were many women qualified to coach American Football in the UK, to which I was asked, “But how many coach?”, as they had never met another female who coached this sport. Now, this event was in one of the largest cities in the UK, a city a variety of teams from youth to adult, both men and womens teams. I could not answer the question, I didn’t know the answer. I know how many have been qualified in the previous six months, I know of the female coaches who are actively coaching at league level – But I only knew of around 7 who actively coached both men and women, and fewer than that who were straight up coaches not player/coaches. What I did not know was how many are coaching silently in the background, those who are not recognised by a title within their teams – this, I would like to think, is many.
But going back to the ‘coaches like you’ quote – what is a coach like me? Who am I as a coach? Who am I as an educator? Who am I? I sat on the train journey home contemplating this question and I was unable to reach a solid conclusion, but what I did do was realise that many female coaches in this sport go unnoticed. There are over 200 teams in the UK, between flag and tackle, from 13yrs to adult, male and female. Each team can have up to 10 coaches and I could name less than 10 females that were actively coaching. That is 0.5% of the entire coaching staff, and that bothered me. Where are they all? They are there, I know they are there – but where and why are they invisible?
So, back to the question of ‘time to move on’. I think it is time for the female coaches in this game to step out from the shadows, to be a presence in the game. Not to those within the game, but those outside of the game. Only this will allow the coaching to progress – coaching as a coach, rather than as a gender.
FCN American Football Co-ordinator:
Sarah Jauncey is an American Football Coach from the UK and wear many hats within the sport. She is a Coach Developer for BAFA, Board Member of BAFCA, a Coach Educator and the only female coach in the GB Lions set up.
To find out more about Sarah, read our exclusive interview with her HERE
Sarah’s role with the FCN is to lead the creation of a Global network of female American Football coaches. To contact Sarah please email: email@example.com