Female Coaches

Importance of Female Facilitators

“Women coaches reduce the risk of sexual violence, although unhealthy relationships can also develop under female leadership. A child protection policy and code of conduct are key. Players should also know what is expected from coaches and what unacceptable behaviour from coaches is. Players also need to know where to go in case of a child protection policy breech. Female facilitators addressing SRHR are important for girls to open up.” Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (FCAM, Central American Women's Fund)

For additional information see Women Win’s International Guide – Recruiting Women Coaches.

The world of sport itself has traditionally had a strong male bias at leadership level. In local, national and international contexts, women are still substantially under-represented in decision-making and as leaders in sporting bodies and institutions. This under-representation extends across the spectrum of sport activity including coaching, management, and in bodies responsible for local, national, regional and international level events.48

Women coaches, peer educators and sport programme staff offer adolescent girls visible proof that women can excel and lead in society.49 These women also fulfil a teaching function, communicating SRHR knowledge and lessons on leadership and — perhaps more importantly — demonstrating the characteristics of effective leadership through their own example. For this reason, it is important for sport programmes addressing SRHR to ensure they develop and provide high quality female role models for girls and women in their programmes.50

As programme implementers, strategise about where and how to recruit, keeping in mind that qualified women coaches can be pivotal in a girl’s development and attainment of her SRHR needs.

Why Are Women Coaches Critical?

  • Girls can see reflections of themselves in leadership
  • Provides comfort discussing awkward SRHR topics
  • Reduces chance of sexual abuse and harassment
  • Offers economic empowerment: Pathway to employment
  • Investment in the programme
  • Investment in the community
  • In mixed-gender programmes, exposes boys to strong women
  • Fosters support for gender equity

Barriers to Recruiting and Retaining Women Coaches:

  • Cultural stereotypes
  • Lack of role models
  • No precedent
  • Few women in decision making positions
  • Intentional programme design
  • Safety
  • Unequal pay

Recruiting and Developing Women Coaches:

  • Advertise
  • Be willing to travel
  • Visit venues where the sport is being played
  • Train girls within the programme
  • Consider the crossover athlete
  • Recruit and train caregivers
  • Contact the national sport governing body/federation
  • Reconsider sport choice

Useful Example – Training Women Coaches
Boxgirls Nairobi is an organisation that aims to empower young women and girls in Nairobi to be self-sufficient through self-defence training. Aside from offering regular training sessions in boxing to their girls, they also offer women and girls the chance to participate in coaching workshops in order to obtain their licenses to be trainers or referees. These coaching sessions are beneficial to the girls on various levels. They are given the opportunity to improve the skills that they already possess and to learn new skills. They also organise workshops for sport events in the neighbourhood, at congresses or in schools, and box in sparring competitions.

Useful Example – Recruiting Former Participants as Staff
The Naz Foundation in India has been very successful in recruiting, hiring and training former programme participants as peer leaders. Former participants often teach the majority of the sport and life skills sessions and are mentored by staff. This allows for clearly structured leadership pathways, is cost effective, and creates a pool of potential staff members for sustainability.