Working to give female coaches the opportunities: The role that men can play
This is the future, I thought, as I said my goodbyes to Chris Ramsey and Manisha Tailor at the Kick It Out 25th Anniversary dinner last week.
Chris, one of the best football coaches in the business, is mentoring and encouraging - and has importantly given a job - to Manisha who is now Foundation Phase Lead at QPR Academy. Chris, who made his mark in the Tottenham Academy, works tirelessly to promote great coaches, whatever their gender. Take Annie Zaidi for example. Annie was determined to shake off the tag as the only hijab wearing UEFA B Licence coach - and Chris gave her the opportunity to showcase her talent by asking her to lead sessions with his Under 18 side at QPR.
Daunting as it was initially for Annie - you can just feel the empowerment such a gesture gives to a young up and coming female in football. Coach Annie was then approached by National League side Solihull Moors and now works in the Midland club's Academy with the Under 16s and Under 18s. She has also just taken over as head coach of Solihull Moors Ladies FC.
This 11-a-side coaching is an essential requirement of applying for the UEFA A Licence - a bottle neck for women who want to progress in elite coaching. Chris Ramsey recognises these roadblocks for talented coaches and then uses his coach mentor role to work through these barriers.
In the absence of the ability to clone Chris, my International Women's Day week plea is #BalanceforBetter for more of these empowering partnerships.
Shelley Alexander is the editorial lead for women’s sport at the BBC. She was previously programme editor of Football Focus and also the Sports News Editor at BBC Radio 5 Live.
A member of the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board, the Premier League/PFA Community Fund, chair of Kick It Out’s Mentoring Committee and co-founder of Women in Football, Shelley has long been a champion of the importance of parity in women’s sports coverage. Shelley has kept the spotlight on our elite sportswomen between major competitions by asking the likes of Alex Scott, Maggie Alphonsi, Pamela Cookey and Anna Watkins to take the reporter role on films spotlighting innovations in women’s sport.
Shelley has also been the driving force behind creating high quality previews of elite female athletes ahead of major events & celebrating the pioneers of women’s sport, as well as commissioning investigative journalism to continue to shine a light on inequalities in the sports world.
Shelley works tirelessly to ensure women have a place in front of and behind the cameras ensuring the BBC provides opportunities to bring more women into sports reporting, producing and commentating.