‘I love the variety of my job… no two sessions are the same’
Tell us about what you do
I’m the Guernsey Football Association’s women’s and girls’ football development officer. That entails going around all the primary and secondary schools to deliver girls-only football sessions. I engage with girls from Year 1 up to Year 11 in the schools – then we invite them to come to sessions out of school. There’s sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays for primary-school-aged girls, and the girls’ academy (for secondary-school-aged girls) is on Mondays and Thursdays.
Once they become Year 11, they become a senior women’s footballer and they can join a ladies’ team.
I get to engage with so many different girls across all the different age groups and give them an opportunity to play football in a fun environment. A lot of the girls have never done football before because they’re scared of boys – and the boys are too rough. So we give them the opportunity to experience it without that element. It builds their confidence, and after six or so weeks, the girls come up and say, ‘I played football in the playground with the boys today, it was so much fun’ – so it’s building that for them, to have that confidence.
Most of the schools have done really well to support it. We have an initiative called the Wildcats, which is a UK initiative, and we’ve created seven Wildcat centres for girls aged five to 11. Five of the primary schools have become Wildcat centres, plus the two sessions on a Monday and Wednesday. Everything is free for the girls to take part in.
Monday and Wednesday is kindly sponsored by Ravenscroft. The girls are rewarded with a free football kit once they complete 10 sessions. Once they’ve completed 10 sessions, all the girls turn up in their purple kits – they absolutely love it.
I also do other bits for the GFA – it’s a very varied role. I support the clubs with all their online administration. It’s not all about girls’ football, but I enjoy every element of my job.
The exposure of the Women’s World Cup has been really positive. Even though we’ve stopped for the summer, I hope it encourages girls to pick up a ball and play with their friends throughout the summer holidays. Then when it comes to September they’ll be keen to know what’s happening in football. They’ve been watching clips and highlights and even collecting the sticker book. It really shows that women’s football is growing, and I hope it’s inspired the girls’ academy age group girls, who’ll be eligible to play in the Island Games in 2021.
What’s the hardest part about your job?
I find it emotionally hard when I have girls coming up to me saying that they don’t like football any more. But at least it means they’ve tried it and experienced it. You want to be inspiring as many people as possible, but it’s not for everyone.
Physically the hardest thing is going from one place to another to another – I’m very enthusiastic about the way that I coach, but it’s also very tiring. I thrive off the girls’ energy, but when I get home I’m shattered.
What’s the best part about your job?
I love the variety and seeing so many different age groups. Each day it’s different. This year I’ve seen 280 different girls throughout the year. I love watching them progress and seeing their footballing skills grow – it’s quite humbling, because I’ve done that. I’ve just been on holidays for two weeks and I missed doing the football session. There’s so many characters. No two sessions are the same.
What’s your funniest work memory?
We recently went on a trip to France and I took Year 9 and Year 10 girls. Let’s put it this way – there were a lot of seagulls and one girl got targeted twice.
I found that quite funny.
I also get asked funny questions, and the one that makes me chuckle is, ‘are you any good at football?’ but that’s up to them to decide.
What do you currently drive?
I drive a Hyundai Kona and it’s lovely. I had an i20 Active, but now I have the Kona. I’d just describe it as a bigger version – they’re both lovely cars to drive. It’s nice to be able to be in a car that looks professional. I used to drive a red Nissan Micra and driving into schools with it meant nothing – nobody knew the football development officer was there. Now, whenever I’m parked, people automatically know what’s happening. And people wave to me as they recognise the car – the car has its own identity.
It’s roomy, the boot is where the work stuff is, it’s great to be able to carry work stuff around and it doesn’t interfere with my own stuff. The back seat is full of my other sporting stuff. I’m very grateful to Barras Car Centre for their support.