The journey starts here...
Melanie Buckley has been coaching a local team for three years now. Like many, her coaching journey began when she started volunteering with her daughter’s team.
Having witnessed different approaches and coaching styles throughout her daughter’s playing journey, some positive and others not so, Melanie was inspired to get involved as a parent helper after seeing the enthusiasm and commitment that one coach brought to the role for her daughter’s team.
Initially thinking she would just be handing out a few bibs and setting out cones etc, Melanie soon realised that coaching was something she enjoyed and wanted to do. From her own relatively short experience in the game, she quickly recognised the positive impact that you can make in children’s lives with the right attitude of inclusivity and fairness.
With this realisation, Melanie set out to complete her coaching qualifications as soon as she could, and, when the coach of her daughter’s team left, she and another parent took on the team themselves. Alongside the administrative side of managing a team, Melanie found herself planning and coaching the girls’ training sessions.
Two years into her coaching journey, at the start of her third season, Melanie received an email from Berks & Bucks FA advertising our Female Coaches Community and a full schedule of events, workshops &sessions planned to take place across the season as part of the programme.
Since it launched in March 2022, the Berks & Bucks FA Female Coaches Community (FCC) has supported more than 100 female coaches with their development in the grassroots game.
Through a mix of online and in-person Continued Professional Development sessions (CPD) as well as opportunities to network and learn from shared lived experiences, the FCC aims to support the development of female coaches across our region.
Free to attend and ideal for coaches both experienced and those new to the game, the group is supported by FA Regional Coach Development Officer for Women & Girls’, Vicky Fisher and covers a range of topics such as ‘knowing the basics’, ‘planning for new seasons’, ‘developing players’ and much more.
Being relatively new to coaching and football in general, Melanie thought the FCC seemed like a fantastic way of carrying on with her learning and development. Having completed her coaching qualification online post-pandemic, one of the things Melanie missed out on was meeting other coaches face-to-face and having a network of support throughout that part of her journey.
Starting out on a new path or being new to something can often feel daunting. Asking questions or speaking out in any group situation, especially one where there are different levels of experience, or you are from an underrepresented group, can be nerve-wracking.
This is part of why Melanie feels the Female Coaches Community is invaluable. Although she has other female coaches at her club that she could look to for support, being in an all-female environment, learning together and sharing experiences makes her feel more confident to put herself out there and ask questions.
Reflecting on her own experiences, Melanie has found the sessions to be really beneficial: “The sessions have been great. You always learn something when you attend a session and I think it’s so important to keep learning and developing as a coach. The more practical sessions are particularly useful, as Vicky is inspirational and fantastic at illustrating points in action with a real team.
“With these sessions though, as well as subject related discussion where you can share any thoughts and ideas in a very relaxed environment, there is always time for general networking too. I like the variety of people I meet - some are quite new like me and some have a huge wealth of experience and I’m always very impressed by the shared knowledge in the room - it’s a pleasure to meet amazing women that have given so much to develop football in their area (especially for girls).”
Alongside the programme of online and in-persons events, Melanie also feels the additional support provided by Berks & Bucks FA, has been beneficial: “They have been really supportive – there are lots of resources out there to help you. As well as the events, there is an online platform dedicated to female coaches and access to coach mentors that will come along to your sessions and give you help and ideas. I think that if ever I had an area I needed help with, I know I could contact them and get support.”
An advocate of the FCC, to other female coaches in the region who have perhaps thought about coming to a session but just haven’t taken the step yet, Melanie’s message is: “Come! Everyone is very friendly, it’s all very informal and I always walk away full of new ideas and a newfound enthusiasm for coaching!”
If you would like to learn more about our Female Coaches Community
and how you can get involved, please check out the dedicated section of our website for information and events.
Alternatively, to have an informal discussion with a member of the team, please call 01235544890 or drop us an email Development@Berks-BucksFA.com