As this is my first blog for the Female Coaching Network (well, in fact ever – so please bear with me) I thought I would introduce myself and set the scene for my posts so you can follow my coaching journey.
I was a late comer to boxing starting in my 20’s, but it soon developed into an obsession and I was competing within a year and began coaching not long afterwards. I was a young Police Officer and used my contacts to set up community projects and youth diversion schemes. I also coached the new boxers looking to join the Police team. I was lucky that my own coach was an early advocate for women’s boxing. We had the strongest female squad in the country at the time and the experience and skills of my team mates meant I was surrounded by women who were confident in their own abilities.
After a short break, I returned to competition boxing for a well-established Amateur club. Again, I was fortunate to have a coach invested in female boxing and sparring partners that forced me to up my game. Healthy competition and an expectation of excellence enabled me to finally achieve my goals, a national title and representing my country. I retired from competition in 2015 and joined my former coach at a new gym where I now coach and manage our Amateur squad. In the last few years I’ve immersed myself into my new role. I’ve been selected as a London female squad coach and as a coach for Police team the World Police and Fire Games in Los Angeles this summer. I was also appointed to the England Boxing (the National Governing Body) Coach Education Subcommittee.
I’m at an exciting time in my coaching career as I seek to develop my own knowledge and skills and look to achieve, eventually, my goal of becoming a top-level coach. So why am I writing about my experiences on the way? I want to normalise the role of women in typically masculine sports and encourage more to strive for roles such as coaching. England Boxing recently released statistics that 30% of their membership was female. This figure is an outstanding improvement and something to be proud of, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the proportion of female coaches.
There are of course many reasons why women tend not to fill certain roles but as the saying goes ‘it’s hard to be what you can’t see’ so it is important our role models are visible, their voices heard and their accomplishments recognised. It’s not always in a woman’s nature to talk about themselves or to have the confidence to share experiences and this can be compounded in male dominated environments such as Amateur boxing. There are women out there paving the way in many roles and it’s important to identify and celebrate their achievements. To name but a few, Hilary Lissenden, a Director of England Boxing who is also an International level referee, commentators such as Stacey Copeland and Lucy O’Connor and national level coaches such as Amanda Coulson and Amanda Groarke.
However, it’s not just women we need to reach. I believe we should work with male coaches and coach both male and female athletes to normalise the role of women in coaching. After all, I don’t see myself as a female coach – I am simply, a coach.
Bio: Rachel Bower, is a boxing coach at London Community Boxing. A former National Champion and England representative she now coaches Novice to Elite Amateur boxers at club level, the London Female Squad and the Metropolitan Police boxing team. She also holds a position on the England Boxing Coach Education Sub Committee.
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