THE LEAD charity for coaching in the UK is calling for more women to enter the coaching workforce.
UK Coaching exists to support and develop the nation’s three million coaches and is outlining its ambition for gender equity within coaching in the next five years.
Pre-pandemic, female coaches made up 43 per cent of the workforce – down from 46 per cent in 2017 – and this number may continue to fall upon return to play as it is anticipated that only 50 per cent of coaches are expected to return to paid positions.
In the last year proactive measures have been put in place in a bid to increase the number of female high-performance coaches, who currently make up ten per cent of all performance coaching roles.
UK Sport recently launched its leadership programme in a bid to double the representation of female coaches in the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community by Paris 2024. The programme involves leading coaches mentoring a cohort of 19 through a six-month course which aims to help them reach the top of their respective sports.
To ensure talented coaches have the opportunity to join the high-performance pathway, UK Coaching has also recently introduced its own female leadership programme – working with national governing bodies to develop female coaches and elevate the positions of women in coaching across all sports at the base of the performance pathway.
The organisation is already working with Basketball England and the Rugby Football League to deliver bespoke courses.
Yet, with UK Coaching’s research showing the importance of female role models and with activity levels amongst this group lower than that of their male counterparts, female coaches will be fundamental as the nation rebuilds after the pandemic.
Emma Atkins, Director of Coaching at UK Coaching, said: “We want to see more women come into coaching, be supported to stay in coaching and, if it is their goal, progress to coaching in talent and high-performance sport.
“Gender equality in sport has made considerable strides in recent years but we must move towards a balanced coaching workforce and that means showing women that coaching is for them.
“It is an incredibly rewarding experience. Coaching needs more female coaches and we are calling on sports organisations to work with us in our mission to achieve an equitable 50/50 split in the next five years.
“Our research shows it’s really important that, when starting to get active, women and girls are more comfortable if their coach is the same gender.
“With the levels of inactivity amongst women and girls at a high, it is vital we can encourage more females to join the coaching workforce. It has also been great to see a handful of female coaches breaking the glass ceiling and coaching at high-performance level across the world.
“We need to do more to ensure this becomes common practice. For too long female coaches have been overlooked in high level sport.”
Mel Marshall, lead swimming coach at the National Centre Loughborough and long-time coach of Olympic champion Adam Peaty MBE, added: “For me it’s so important female coaches have three things – role models, the confidence to know they can do the job and that they are given the right opportunities.
“I think women and girls have some fantastic coaching traits – we listen well, are diligent and we care – so it can only be a good thing to have more female coaches within sport and physical activity.
“The last year has had a huge impact on the nation’s activity levels so let’s get more women at the forefront and give them the platform to inspire the next generation of female coaches.”
To find out how you can get into coaching, or how UK Coaching can support gender equitability within your own coaching workforce, visit ukcoaching.org.