Phoebe Schecter has been involved in the British Women’s game since its conception. Now making her move into coaching, we talk about her achievements from being the Captain of the Great Britain Womens team to coaching a new Ladies team in Staffordshire.
You were the captain of the Great Britain Lions Women’s team who won the silver medal at 2015 IFAF Womens European Championships, how did you make the move into coaching, and was this a natural progression?
It originally started off when I went to help out with the Manchester Titans Ladies, kind of as a player-coach. From there I started helping out with the Manchester Youth team. I really enjoyed helping and coaching, then when Sarah had created the Staffordshire Surge Womens team, I took that over ? that?s been the greatest joy working with the women?s team.
What are your roles within American Football?
Head Coach of the Staffordshire Surge ladies team, Special Teams Co-Ordinator for the Surge Senior Men’s Team, Sports Conditioning Programme writer for the GB Womens teams. Playing wise, I play for the Cheshire Cavaliers Flag Football Team, Birmingham Lions Womens Tackle Team, Staffordshire Surge Men?s team, GB Women?s Flag and GB Womens Tackle Team.
Were you in the minority on your coaching qualification? How did you feel being in the minority?
When I did my level 1 coaching I did the ?womens edition? one! A coaching qualification day that was specifically aimed at women, so actually there was more women than there were men. But then when I did my level 2 I was the only woman, there was probably 10 men and me!
At first I don?t think they were very sure about what to do with me being there, and I think they possibly doubted my skills, knowledge. But actually towards the end they were more comfortable, and after we did a practical it was a lot easier!
Can you tell us a little more regarding your playing career? How do you juggle being a player and a coach?
Playing has been amazing! I don’t know what I would do without playing. But it’s really interesting because when it came to coaching the womens team, I really didn’t want to play- and I still don’t want to play. I enjoy watching them learn and watching them kind of figure it out for themselves. I don?t get the urge to play, though I was not sure how I would take that originally, how do I stay back. Same with the men?s special teams, I have got so much to learn! I was really lucky with Coach Smith to allow me to take on that role because it was a big leap for me. I don’t claim to know much about the sport, so at first I wasn?t really wanting to participate, but now getting to know the guys and they are getting to know me, and now playing on the team, it feels right. But I wouldn’t have felt comfortable jumping in and taking on all these roles like I was trying to take over without this time learning.
I notice from being a coach of both a men?s and women?s team, that from a female coach perspective that it is different ?belonging? in the two groups, do you feel that is something you have felt?
It is a weird situation! Isn?t it funny that we worry how the men receive us as coaches, but actually the way that women look at us is almost more under the microscope than the men. Which is interesting, but it could be down to our nature! I feel that women want you to prove yourself more.
What are your future ambitions as a coach?
I would love to see Surge Ladies take on contact, and move into the Sapphire Series here in the UK. That’s definitely a goal for us and me. For me personally I would love to move into positional coaching, playing linebacker I am sure I could add some bits to it! I am just happy to learn from the people around me, I have so much to learn. I was never someone who would watch a football game to be honest until I moved from the USA to the UK!! Since then I have become football crazy!! It’s so weird
Where do you see the future of both the womens game in the UK, and women in coaching this sport?
The women’s game is surpassing the men’s game, we are going to keep building with the development days, the skills camps, etc. I hope that we are competitive at the Worlds next year. I think that is going to be huge for us. It will be sad, as I think after the Worlds we will lose some of our ladies but there is the hope that they will bounce back into the coaching and give back to the sport in the way that it has given us all these opportunities. The next generation will be amazing!