National Apprenticeship Week 2018: spotlight on Women’s Football Apprentices

AoC Sport is delighted to be supporting National Apprenticeship Week, taking place 5-9 March.

We are focusing on how ‘Colleges make Apprenticeships Work’   – for individuals, employers, local communities and the wider economy.

AoC Sport has been working through FA College Grassroots Hubs to provide the opportunity for passionate young women to join the football industry via apprenticeships in sport development.

Eighteen colleges currently host 20 apprentices, all working collectively to increase female participation in football, both in their colleges and local communities.

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we spoke to Women’s Football Apprentice and Yeovil Town Ladies player, Leah Burridge.

Leah, 21, is studying the NVQ Level 3 in Supporting the Delivery of Physical Education and School Sport at Bridgwater and Taunton College.

“I work with schools in the local community and within the college to engage women and girls in football. Sometimes, it’s the smallest involvement but it’s a start. Not everyone has to be engaging at 100mph, just as long as they’re there, enjoying the social side and trying something new.

“I just want girls and women to enjoy their experience of football. There wasn’t much available when I was younger, so I’m glad I get to do this role to make a difference.

“I’ve learnt how to engage women and girls. It’s a massive jump between women and girls. It’s easier to engage girls at such a young age because they haven’t been impacted as much by society. It’s more of a challenge to engage women because of the presupposed attitudes towards football.

“I’ve started to come up with innovative ways to engage women and breakdown the barriers to football. For example, I use Soccercise (an exercise class with a football) and have started approaching the Slimming World group who meet at my college to provide their 30 minutes of exercise a week. That way, they are achieving their goals whilst being introduced to football for the first time.

“I’m going into local schools coaching, and we’re running a Wildcats centre at the college. I work with a lot of partners such as Somerset FA, Yeovil Town Ladies, Bridgwater Town Mens and SASP.

“I’m a first team player for Yeovil Town Ladies in the Women’s Super League One, the top division in women’s football. It’s great because my teammates will come down to the college and schools to help deliver sessions, and they’ll do player appearances in schools too. That role-modelling really impacts the girls and helps increase participation.

“The training days from AoC Sport have been really beneficial. Last week we came together as a team of apprentices from across the country to learn as one and support each other in our roles. We shared experiences and got new ideas. There’s so much from those days that we apply when we’re back at work.”