Since the start of our partnership with Nike at the beginning of 2020, the FCN have been able to move forward in delivering more impactful, strategic and sustainable projects aimed at increasing the number of female coaches at performance levels of sport.
In April, we began our work in athletics in the U.K; the FCN | Track & Field Project, with the purpose of working towards gender equality in high performance athletics coaching, ensuring the opportunities for those women coaches wanting to coach at that level of track & field were available.
Working alongside the coaches, the governing bodies and our partners Nike and Leeds Beckett University, we have been able to provide the sport with the foundations for change in terms of gender equality.
To begin our project, we wanted to find out what the current landscape is for female coaches coaching at the performance level of the sport in the U.K. So, in April, we launched our official research paper in partnership with Leeds Beckett University, alongside the brilliant Professor Leanne Norman.
The research is broken up into two parts; part 1 explores the data around women coaches. We looked at the numbers of women qualified at each coaching level, the number of women coaches on international teams and the number of women coaching an athlete in the Top 100 of each event.
Part 2 aims to discover the experiences, views and understanding not only of the women coaches themselves, but GB level athletes and representatives from each of the governing bodies.
Through this research, we will establish a starting point for our project and help the governing bodies to understand the current landscape, issues and barriers for female coaches.
One of the key aspects needed to provide a supportive platform for coaches in the sport is to create connections, allowing all involved to share and develop as a community. Track & Field can be a lonely sport at times, so bringing coaches together as a community is a key element in making change sustainable.
Over the summer months, we have been building a database of female coaches and spending time to get to know the women who currently coach athletes at senior and or junior performance levels.
We have also recently launched the FCN | Athletics Performance Coach Forum which provides a platform for female coaches who are coaching at the performance end of the sport to meet up (online for now!), share ideas and discuss various issues and ideas on how we can support the current changes needed in the sport.
It has also been essential that the FCN build connections with those who will ultimatley be the ones implmeneting the change – the governing bodies. Over the last few weeks we have met with the England Athletics coaching team, Scottish Athletics, the new UKA CEO Joanna Coates, presented at the CEO forum, and we look forward to presenting at the up & coming Scottish Athletics National Club Conference.
With our research due to be published at the end of year, we are currently working on raising awareness of our work, some of the headline findings and the general experiences of the coaches and athletes involved.
Once armed with the findings of the research, our goal will be to work alongside coaches and the governing bodies in order to create, develop and deliver a number of recommendations and strategies which will support a sustainable diverse coaching workforce and ultimately ensure that the coaching environment across the sport is more positive, affective and inclusive for all.
More updates to follow!