Yesterday we had the opportunity to chat with Ex-Arsenal and England footballer Rachel Yankey about the Fairer Game campaign, which has been launched by Betfair in association with Women in Football.
The long-term aim of the Fairer Game campaign is to address gender imbalance and increase diversity in coaching by doubling the number of female coaches with UEFA A licences [currently there are just 29 female coaches compared to 1,484 male].
Betfair are funding 50 coaches, from across England, with an investment of £50,000, to complete their UEFA B Licences [at the moment there are just 310 women with B Licences to 10,000 men].
Rachel has always already completed her level B Licence and is working on her UEFA A Licence.
I asked her if they had any trouble finding 50 suitably qualified female coaches ready to work for their UEFA B Licence and was a little surprised and very pleased by her response: ‘not at all, if we had been looking for 100, we would have easily filled the allocation.’
When asked why so few women go into coaching Rachel cited various reasons; notably it’s not that easy currently to get on a course, the cost of the courses is also high, which for many will be prohibitive and then combined with the fact that there are so few paid coaching positions available to women. You also have to have reached the relevant qualification in order to progress further and often there is the chicken and egg situation where you can’t get on a course because you lack experience of coaching at a certain level, but to get that experience you need to get on a course.
Rachel said she believes that it is incredibly important to show that it is totally acceptable for girls as well as boys to be able to follow their dreams be that playing a sport or coaching. We have somehow to break the mould, which means we have to convince mums as well as dads that taking part in sport offers so many benefits to all children. Obviously not all of them will be very good at it, but that is not the point.
Most football fans will know that when a youngster Rachel cut her hair, called herself Ray in order to get on a team to play football. Her passion for the game is clear and as well as enjoying a stellar career, she enjoys coaching at grassroots level and would encourage would-be coaches to do the same, volunteer get down to their local clubs and help out. It is incredibly rewarding to get involved.
As part of the Fairer Game campaign Betfair will provide the £50,000 required to place the 50 coaches on relevant courses, but in addition to this will also set the coaches up with teams through the Betfair Cash 4 Clubs scheme to complete their licence should they not already have an affiliated club and provide a network of women, supported by Women in Football, that can support each other as they make strides in the game.
This says Rachel is an essential part of the scheme linking the coaches with clubs will create an essential pathway for them.
The hope is that by increasing the percentage of women with a UEFA B, Betfair’s ultimate goal of increasing the number of women at the top of the coaching pyramid in England can be achieved over the coming years.
Betfair have chosen their ambassador very well, Rachel is committed and passionate in her love for the game and desire to try and level the playing field.
Here are official quotes from all the parties involved in this great campaign:
Rachel Yankey commented, “I’m looking forward to helping the selected 50 females follow their passion just like I did. I think this is a really unique and empowering opportunity for them. That first day of training, or the first time at a new club is much easier if you see a friendly face and these women will now have 50 faces they know doing the same journey. I personally feel like having more women in positions throughout football will benefit the game as a whole. We need balance in life and women can bring a different perspective.”
The chosen beneficiaries of the Fairer Game campaign were selected from hundreds of applicants who registered their interest up and down the UK. Coaches from Swindon and Sutton Coldfield have been selected and will benefit from the funding to cover their regional FA courses. See below for some of the inspiring stories from the 50 coaches selected;
Naomi Totten commented on behalf of Betfair, “Betfair is recognised for its transformational approach to its campaigns and the Fairer Game campaign is no different. The Fairer Game campaign is about transforming the current landscape for female coaches by providing access and opportunity to coaching. There will be challenges that remain as we work to get each coach a place on a course. However, we wanted to give 50 female coaches the chance to break down those barriers and show that they have the support of others within the game, including Rachel who is an inspirational player and coach within the game.”
Anna Kessel commented on behalf of Women in Football, “Women in Football is extremely proud to be part of a campaign dedicated to increasing the number of female coaches in the game. To date female coaching talent has been under-supported and under-represented in football so it is brilliant to see Betfair and Rachel Yankey adopting such a practical approach to creating change in our industry. WiF are committed to supporting this exciting new crop of coaches, their success will pave the way for another generation to follow.”
Kerry Walkett – Swindon
Having completed her level one training at 16, Kerry relaunched her club that had previously folded. With no players, funds or kit Kerry restarted the club from scratch and by her second season in charge the team secured two sponsors, 19 players had signed on and gone 10 games unbeaten in the league. When her playing career took off in 2015 with WSL2 side Oxford United, coaching took the backseat for a while until Kerry was approached about restarting her old side again. She is currently in her second season coaching the club which she juggles with playing for Reading Women FC. After being selected she hopes to dedicate her time to training as a coach so she can work at a higher level.
Helen Carver – Sutton Coldfield
Helen has actively promoted women’s football throughout her life from her primary school years, when she pushed to play football instead of netball, to her current role at Birmingham & West Midlands LFC. She maintains her voluntary position at her club as a huge passion which she juggles with her day job as a police sergeant. Helen believes empowering other women is integral to being a female coach and developing the sport, something she hopes to have a greater impact upon when completing her UEFA B license.
You can follow the women on their Betfair Fairer Game journey here.