National Apprenticeships Week: Female Football Apprentices helping to make strategy happen for The FA and AoC Sport

To mark the 10th anniversary of National Apprenticeship Week, AoC Sport is celebrating sport apprentices and the positive impact they have in their colleges and communities.

While the apprenticeship reform provides an opportunity for colleges to develop new provision and build new relationships, at AoC Sport we are reflecting on some of the excellent practice currently happening in colleges. We will also share some profiles of how apprentices have progressed into employment.

To kick-off the week, here’s a look at the work of our Female Football Apprentices.

‘People make strategy happen’, and we recognise the vital work FE staff and students make to developing sport and physical activity. In September 2016 The FA and AoC Sport invested £6,000 into 12 Colleges to fund the salary of 12 Women’s Football Apprentices, to engage new female participants and volunteers from the college and local community in regular football activity with a real focus on BAME engagement.

The pilot aims to demonstrate that investment into a paid apprentice workforce within the FE sector to drive female football has a direct correlation to an increase in female participation, engagement of more female volunteers, more sustainable outcomes and better engagement of players and volunteers from ethnic minorities.

In early February the apprentices attended the first ECFA National Football Apprentice Training event at St George’s Park. 30 delegates were in attendance, consisting of ECFA Women’s Football Apprentices and college staff members looking to develop themselves and the women’s game.

Professional footballer, Emily Simpkins, spoke about her journey through a football coaching apprenticeship which developed her employability skills and supported her to become a full-time coach at Derby County, and subsequently The FA. Most recently this has led to her achieving her dream of becoming a full-time professional at Doncaster Rovers Belles FC.

There were further sessions throughout the day from Switch the Play, The FA and AoC Sport, among others, all supporting the individual apprentices to reach their potential through football.

AoC Sport’s National Football Development Manager, Lauren O’Sullivan, said: “It was great to meet our Football Apprentices who will drive forward women’s football, college football hubs and diversity in the game. It was an honour to launch the first National Football Apprentice Training in partnership with The FA. We are very much looking forward to seeing the impact this team of apprentices has over the coming months and, subject to the pilot’s success and future funding, exploring opportunities to grow this model to develop our future workforce.

“Thank you to all who took part in the day and this significant milestone in workforce development. If members are interested in future work in this area or are running apprenticeship linked to football delivery please contact me.”