Girls’ Football Week profile – Rachel Pavlou
To celebrate The FA’s Girls’ Football Week, AoC Sport is running a series of profiles on a range of females from across the game.
Having spoken with Doncaster Belles midfielder Emily Simpkins and former Birmingham Metropolitan College student Kirsty Dixon this week, we today catch up with The FA’s National Women’s Football Participation Manager, Rachel Pavlou.
What made you decide to volunteer in football?
I was working as a Sports Development Officer at Solihull FE College and went on a FA Female Only Prelim Coaching Course with Birmingham Football Development Scheme. Over the duration of the course I was asked by the CEO, Tom Stack and his FA colleague Donna McIvor, if I would like to volunteer to develop Women’s Football for both The FA andBirminghamCountyFA. My college principal Colin Flint thought this was a great fit for his vision to develop more sporting opportunities both within his college and in the local community, so actively supported this.
How has volunteering in football helped develop your personal/workplace skills?
The volunteer role evolved into a lot more and I ended up developing a massive girls’ football development programme both to college students and in the local schools and clubs. When The FA advertised for a full time Regional Director for Women’s Football, I had the experience, knowledge and passion to apply for the position. 18 years later I am still developing the female game at The FA, with a lot of thanks toSolihullCollege, Tom Stack, Donna McIvor and Birmingham FA!
What benefits are there for colleges to offer a good level of female football opportunities?
Colleges are one of our major partners in our strategy. There is so much potential to develop the game both within the college sector and outside into the local community. I have first-hand knowledge of seeing young girls in local schools starting their football journey in our college Mini Soccer Centre that was run by staff and students, joining a local club where we started a link with and then going onto study atSolihullCollegewhen they were older. I believe we raised the profile and reputation of our college through our girls’ football development programmes which has left a great legacy in the area. And so many of those students who we supported with coach/referee qualifications and most of all confidence and character building, have gone onto work in the PE/Sports sector themselves. This example alone hits student development, college reputation, community involvement, club partnerships, leadership and workforce development.
To what extent do you feel it’s important for colleges to have a pathway link with a local club?
Many colleges may wish to go down the elite pathway with a WSL/WPL club or even a Women’sFootballAcademy– just look atSouth GloucestershireandStroudCollegeand their partnership with WSL teamBristolCity! Having a strong link with a local female club helps ensure your students have a progressive pathway to play the game and hopefully will keep them enjoying the game for years after they leave their college.