Coaching in the UK

International Reach event celebrates women coaches

Tue, 28 Feb 2017

Picture of Liselotte Ohlson Liselotte Ohlson, Head of the Swedish Sports Confederation’s Department of Elite Sport and Development, addresses delegates at Reach - Shine: Elite Women Coach Event. Photograph: ©JakeWright/SportsCoachUK


An international women in coaching event took place in Kensington, London on the 23-24 February.

Run by Reach – Sports Coach UK’s national brand for supporting women in coaching – the ‘Shine: Elite Women Coach Event’ saw 40 elite level coaches from Britain, Sweden and Norway come together to share coaching experiences across cultures and engage in professional development.

Opening proceedings was Liz Nicholl CBE, Chief Executive Officer of UK Sport, who gave an account of her journey through sport, coaching and administration. She challenged the delegates to put themselves out there and stressed the importance of having female role models in the coaching workforce to increase greater parity.

Following the address a series of ‘Coaching Conversations’ took place.

Noted as the force majeure, these six presentations, were an opportunity for presenters to speak to delegates on an area of their expertise. Highlights included: ’Why does gender inequality persist in our coaching workforces and what can we do about it’ by Dr Leanne Norman, Research Fellow at Leeds Beckett University and ‘Rastle I Rio’ by Ulrika Sandmark. The Swedish Swimming Federation’s Head Coach, talked openly about the differences between a successful and unsuccessful Olympics (the Swedish swimming team won no medals at London 2012 but won gold, silver and bronze in Rio).

“You need role models.”

Great Britain and England Hockey coach, Karen Brown – recently named by the International Hockey Federation (Fédération Internationale de Hockey; FIH) as Female Coach of the Year for 2016 – also gave a talk on ‘Performance environment: Getting it right when it matters’. In it she paid homage to the coaching environment she, Danny Kerry and support staff, created for the British women’s hockey squad in Rio, culminating in a gold medal for the team.

Speaking from Kensington, Karen explained why she was taking part in the Shine event.

“You need role models. You need [coaches] who are out there and have been there, and done it and are actually prepared to stand up and support [other] female coaches. I feel that is my responsibility now. I feel I have to be a role model, I have to put myself forward a little bit more,” said Karen.

“Opening up dialogues and conversations, experiencing other people’s worlds is always beneficial. You only know what you’ve experienced; you don’t know, what you don’t know.

“As Liz Nicholl said we have to be courageous, we have to put ourselves out there, take the good from the bad and push ourselves a lot harder to be where we want to be. I have absolutely no doubt that in the next two, three, four, years there will be more female coaches, not just in my sport of hockey, but in the UK sport landscape.” 

Subject of gender equality.

Leading the Swedish contingent was Liselotte Ohlson, Head of the Swedish Sports Confederation’s Department of Elite Sport and Development. She, in collaboration with Sports Coach UK, arranged to bring the Swedish and Norwegian coaches to the event.

“The main goals and ambitions was [extending] our network and also coming [to the UK], to exchange experiences, get new knowledge and also inspiration,” said Lisolette.

“[Learn] new ideas from different sports, like hockey; it’s a very small sport in Sweden, but we can learn from all sports and different kind of coaches and different experiences.

“All of us will feel a bit stronger in the subject of gender equality. We each find this is not a problem or issue [only] in Sweden, but also here and in other countries. So I think we will think a bit stronger to continue to work [on] this subject.”

Day two saw delegates rise early for 'Breakfast Club' talks; listening to Dr Anita Navin give a talk on the journey of the Severn Stars netball team – one of three new teams entering the Vitality Netball Superleague for the 2017 season – and later on in the morning hearing the benefits on elite athletes getting enough sleep from ‘Sleep Evangelist’, Dr Sophie Bostock. The event concluded with a closing note from CEO of Sports Coach UK, Mark Gannon, thanking delegates for coming and to continue the conversation on gender equality in coaching.

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