Source: The FA

Step over the Sidelines – interview with Bex Garlick

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Our interview with Bex Garlick, National Coach Development Lead in the Women’s Game at The FA during the England Football Learning’s ‘Stepping over the Sidelines Weekend’ and her valuable insight into making that step over the sideline from supporter to coach.

Stepping over the sidelines event

4TLOS: How would you actively encourage the transition from Stepping over the Sidelines and a supporter to coach role?

Bex Garlick:  I think just taking that step and getting involved. It can be hard sometimes because you’re not always asked, which can be a barrier, but if you think that you might be interested in helping or you think you have something to offer, just stepping forward and offering, just to help out, it can start with anything.

It doesn’t have to be that all of a sudden you’re fully involved in delivering the whole session, it can just be something really small, like taking the warm-up or, you know, helping get all the players in and getting them started on an activity or something.

Just starting by offering your help if you feel that you’ve got something to offer because most people definitely have!

4TLOS: Do you think it’s better to help by going to the local team or to pursue your coaching credentials first?

Bex Garlick: I think people will go down different paths to be honest. Some people do have connections with their local clubs or providers and that’s always a really good place to start because local clubs are usually crying out for volunteers and people to help.

If you haven’t got that connection with a club that can be quite overwhelming so it might be that you reach out to your local County FA and ask for them to put you into contact with clubs and providers that might be looking for volunteers.

Our first courses are online, and Playmaker by EE is free to do so that’s definitely a starting point before you’ve kind of, it might just give you that bit of confidence to go out.

I’ve actually done the Playmaker course, and I feel more confident and like I know a bit more about it. I’m currently on a break from coaching at the minute, my job requires quite a bit of travel and traveling around. But I’ve been involved in coaching since I was 16 and started off taking my cousin’s under-17 team.

We often hear a similar story for a lot of females taking that step. They take that step into coaching because they take on their son or daughter’s team. For me, it was my cousin.

I started when I was 16 and then coached right through really in a variety of different environments, grassroots like we are here.

My full-time role at The FA was at one stage a full-time coach for 5-to-11- year-olds. And I’ve also worked in the talent pathway as well.

4TLOS: When I was involved with colts football, there weren’t grassroots coaching courses available, so as a woman in football and wanting a bit of credibility I did a referee’s course.  Is this a route that you would recommend?

Bex Garlick:  I think it depends what you want to do and what you enjoy about the game.

Some people go down the refereeing route, but a lot of young people go down that route because it is usually a paid role in the game so you get something back in terms of monetary value.

But I think it depends what kind of drives you.

I wanted to get into coaching because I loved working with kids, I loved helping and helping people to get better and helping people to develop.

That was my opportunity to give something back, but other people might be inspired by the role of the referee in the middle of the pitch and there’s lots of different avenues.

I know that within The FA there are opportunities similar to what we offer through coaching, there’s more opportunities for female referees as well. We’re trying to diversify our workforce across a variety of roles, not just coaching.

So any opportunity can seek to get a more diverse workforce in refereeing and volunteering is of value to us all.

4TLOS: If someone was coming in as an experienced coach, would you recommend that they started working with younger age groups or do you think it doesn’t really matter?

Bex Garlick: I think people do start with a younger age group, but again it depends what experiences you’ve got.

If you’ve played the game but you’re just taking the step into coaching, you might feel comfortable taking an adult’s team, or an open age team or an older team.

If you’ve maybe not had as much experience, but you might be a teacher or you might be a nurse or in your role you might work with young people that might be naturally where you feel more comfortable working with those younger age groups.

So I think it depends, we do get a lot of parents taking that step into coaching and they naturally take on their children’s age group. You do see newer coaches working with younger players but that doesn’t have to be the case.

I think our offer across football, through The FA is so varied and so broad and just because you are taking adults, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a competitive team playing in a league where you need to know absolutely loads about the game because there’s opportunities through just play for adult recreation.

4TLOS: And finally, what piece of advice would you give someone interested in trying to get involved?

Bex Garlick: I think just be yourself. There’s a view that you have to have certain qualities or you have to be a certain type of character or person to take that step into coaching. And often we do see coaches who are vocal, who are confident, who are strong leaders.

Because they’ve got lead the team and deliver the sessions, but you don’t have to change yourself to fit into that role.

I think some of the best coaches I’ve worked with are just really calm, really relaxed, approachable, really caring people.  Not one to be doing lots of talking and being vocal. I think just be yourself, recognise why do you want to do it.

And what is it that you think you can bring and, and really cling on to that, and sell that to the club or provider that you’re going into.

Most clubs and providers are crying out for volunteers because volunteers are what keep our game going, especially at the grassroots level so they will always be open to any extra help that they can get.

We also received a few further contributions from Natalie Mulvihill and Andrea Ellis, participants at the event:

“I have always wanted to get involved and do coaching but I thought I would
never be able to as I don’t know the rules and the A-Z of football. But when I
look at the qualities in front of me, I realised that I can actually do it and do
have the qualities to be a coach”
Natalie Mulvihill

“It doesn’t matter who you or how old you are you could be out there
inspiring someone”

“I took time off now we have so many volunteers but when I returned I was
skipping off the pitch because they were all so happy for me to return and it
felt so lovely and rewarding” – Andrea Ellis, coach and community champion
for Kent

With thanks to Matchfit