Heightened female focus as Australia welcomes FIFA coaching instructors

  • Australia played host to the latest FIFA Coach Educators’ Development Programme

  • FIFA instructors delivered an intense five-day classroom and on-pitch course

  • Female coaches in focus ahead of Australia co-hosting 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

“If we have better coaches, then we have better players.” It may be a simple statement, but the words of FIFA Technical Expert Dany Ryser succinctly encapsulate the world governing body’s long-term goal and commitment to continually elevating the standard of football across the globe. Australia was the latest nation to host the FIFA Coach Educators’ Development Programme with further similar activities planned in keeping with heightened technical standards as laid out in the FIFA President’s Vision 2020-2023. Ryser, who is also Switzerland’s U-17 national team coach, along with Branimir Ujevic (FIFA Head of Coaching & Player Development) and Mohamed Basir (FIFA Senior Manager, Coaching Development Department) headed Down Under last week for the latest roll-out of the pilot programme, following on from similar recent events in Brazil, USA and Senegal.

The Australian iteration was marked by enhanced level of inclusivity for female coaches. Football Australia included 50 per cent females among the attendees, with the nation also seeking to reach player participation gender parity by 2027. That goal is part of the legacy plan for Australia who, along with New Zealand, are preparing to welcome the world for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™. “This week has showcased a number of female coach educators and coach developers, who are just starting their journey on that coach education pathway,” said Rae Dower, Australia U-17 coach and Football Australia’s Women’s Technical Adviser. “For coaches to see more female coach educators is also a really important part of elevating females within the game and to try to elevate them to leadership roles within the game.

For coaches to see more female coach educators is an important part of elevating women to leadership roles."

Rae Dower - Australia U-17 coach & Women’s Technical Adviser

“What we want beyond 2023 is an increase in the numbers [of women] in the game. We understand that there will be a lot of hype around the event, but we want the event to actually have long-lasting ramifications for the game. “If we want to reach that 50-50 target of participation with players, then we also need to look at the amount of coaches that we need to invest in. Investing in coaches and coach education means that we get better coaches, which means coaching players to be better players.” For many of the female coaches at the five-day practical and theoretical Sydney course, the gender balance was a new experience, one which changed the dynamic and added new perspectives for all participants.

“It’s important to be able to have more and more [female coaches], so that for that females playing the game, potentially that [coaching] is a career they can go into,” said Annick Fokchak, Football Victoria’s Talent Development Pathways Manager for Girls. "It’s important, I think, to have the 50-50 balance, but I think it’s just as important that both male and females bring knowledge to the game, and not just towards the female space. You know maybe females can go and enter the male space as well and coach there. Why not?" Football Australia’s Technical Director Trevor Morgan says growing a core skilled group of coach educators is especially important in a nation spread over such a vast area. “Currently our coach development and our coach education courses are well respected globally but definitely need an evolution. The game is always developing, the game is always moving, and it’s important that we continue to move.

“One of the great learnings out of COVID-19, is that we can utilise [online] technologies to connect people and therefore, sometimes deliver a course where there are participants from all over the country at the same time without the travel issues. Then when they need mentoring, when they need help and ongoing development, we have people locally to help them.” Morgan also added that the course was perfectly timed to help maximise hosting of the Women’s World Cup in terms of both participation and the requisite number of skilled coaches. “With a tournament as large as a World Cup and, in particular, co-hosting a Women’s World Cup with another confederation (Oceania Football Confederation), the eyes of the world will be on Australia and New Zealand for just over a month. “In that time, whether it’s the game, whether it’s coaching, whether it’s participation, for every aspect around football, we have a huge chance to make sure that the key messages and the key developments of our game are noted by a public who don’t always focus on football.”