My Coaching Journey; from 15 years of not playing, to Manager and Head Coach

After not playing football for over 15 years I wanted to get back into the sport and found a women’s local group called MumBall – a beginner’s group for mums and women of all ages and abilities to get out of the house for an hour, play football, get fit and have fun. I signed up and made lots of great friends and loved going to the session each week. We entered a couple of women’s friendly tournaments in Liverpool when the opportunity arose and I also got to do my FA Level 1 Coaching in Football qualification with Liverpool County FA.

Unfortunately, due to a drop in numbers and other commitments, the sessions started to get cancelled and eventually came to an end. Disheartened and feeling a void on Monday nights, we all missed playing and seeing each other and there were multiple posts in our social media group asking when sessions would be starting up again. Realising how upset everyone was about what had happened, I took it upon myself to try and do something about it.

I bought some second hand footballs and cones, pop up goals and some new bibs (we didn’t want smelly old ones!) and decided to start running the sessions myself to get everyone back together. I found a public park that was close to where we used to play and everyone met up the following Monday where I was able to put my FA Coaching skills into practise! It was nerve-wracking to say the least, but the ladies that turned up absolutely loved it. By the end of the session they all had huge smiles on their faces and were thanking me for what I had done. I felt so pleased and lucky to be surrounded by such an inspiring group of women and it was at that moment I knew I couldn’t give up on them.

Stepping up as coach I made the decision to do what I could to get the sessions back off the ground. We decided collectively as a group to rebrand ourselves as Phoenix Ladies to prove that we are strong and will rise up again. I liaised with Liverpool County FA who helped us to affiliate as an official club and provided us with some new footballs and equipment. We all chipped in with subs to pay for pitch hire for training sessions, extra training equipment and tournament entry fees before I applied for funding from the Football Foundation which would make sessions more accessible for everyone, and buy our very own first team kit. I was also fortunate enough to secure a sponsorship deal with Phoenix Control Systems, a contractor company in my work.

Over the last three years Phoenix Ladies have participated in a handful of women’s friendly tournaments in the North West, including those that support the awareness of Breast Cancer, LGBT+, Homelessness and Domestic Abuse. We are also currently taking part in our third year of the women’s Inspire League Festival in Cheshire. I also organised a football freestyle session one week with Mr Silky Skills which went down very well – the ladies learnt how to perform new skills and tricks and improve their confidence and technique.

Getting to watch the ladies playing and enjoying themselves at tournaments and in training sessions is such a rewarding role for me. I am so proud to see how much they have progressed as a team and individuals in a short amount of time. It has also been fantastic to see so many women’s teams forming during my involvement, and more tournaments and competitions taking place due to such high demand.

The quality of women’s football has such a huge potential to grow and help overcome social and cultural obstacles which can aid the overall improvement and development of women’s standing in society. By facilitating beginner sessions on a regular basis, and supporting and taking part in campaigns and events where possible, I hope that Phoenix Ladies can contribute to the wider aims of a more healthy, equal and prosperous society. I aim to continue to raise awareness and promote opportunities to encourage women to get involved in football.

Phoenix Ladies

Players Comments

I really enjoy playing with Phoenix Ladies. I’ve always felt very welcomed and supported  playing for them. It has helped my confidence and my all round well being massively. I would recommend the club to any women. – Jessica Forde

From never even having watched a football match to training every week and playing in a league … not quite sure how you managed it but thank you Jo – Kerry Ashton-Shaw

Although I played a bit of football at college I thought my playing days were well behind me at the age of 45…. But Phoenix shows how football can bring benefits to people of all ages and levels of ability. Plus it is the best laugh I get all week. Jo has developed something amazing: inclusive, competitive, social and challenging. Love it – Fiona Matthews

I like the fact it brings different groups of women together that maybe I wouldn’t have met or been friends with if I hadn’t attended the sessions, we are a strong group all with different personalities but every person contributes something to the group we empower and support one another both with football and outside of football. It’s made me a lot more confident and I look forward to going every week especially after a rubbish day it’s the best therapy and it has encouraged me to want to go on and learn/work in football – Sarah Foster

I love telling people I play footy, it sort of sets you apart, gives you an edge. It lets people know, this ain’t no ordinary woman. Without Jo and her drive and enthusiasm for the game I’d be sat on a couch with just my childhood memories of the game but instead I’m making new ones! I love it! – Joanne Bevan

Author – Jo Goodall, is 32 years old from Liverpool and works as a maintenance engineer for a car manufacturing company. Being an active person Jo enjoys all sports, taking part mostly in football and snowboarding. Jo is also learning to play the drums.