There has been much contention among hockey players, locally and globally about the lack of women taking coaching roles at the highest level, especially as national coaches. With the only female coaching in the top 10 national field hockey teams, Alyson Annan, excelling in her role, it’s no wonder other women are rightfully breaking through. Now women’s coaching is on the up.
Thankfully, there are also signs that things are changing. Double Olympian Caroline Nelson-Nichols has become the head coach of the USA women’s team. Former striker Jen Wilson of South Africa is head coach to Scotland. Jen is contracted on a part-time basis, which fits in with key preparation and competition phases in the international calendar, as well as regular training camps when sports resume.
Jen Wilson said, “It is a real honor to be appointed as the Head Coach of the Scotland women’s team.
“I have always been incredibly impressed with the passion these girls play with and their desire to continually make improvements in their game. I’m looking forward to working with the players, the support team, and the hockey community in Scotland.”
For an impressive 5 years, the South African was steward of Ashford men’s 1st XI in the Kent/Sussex and South Premier League.
Jen Wilson was also coach of Canterbury women leading them to top spot and two second-placed finishes in the Investec National Premier Division as well as two successful campaigns in the Euro Hockey Champions Cup.
Russia women are led by Svetlana Ivanova; and Ukraine’s head coach is Svitlana Makaieva.
There are also many female coaches working with age group national teams – former Great Britain and England forward Hannah McLeod is one such example.
According to the FIH website a key reason for the increasing number of women gradually finding a role into high performance coaching is the advent of remote working among other hi tech solutions.
Increased use of technology, so that much of the learning can be performed out on-line is much more compatible with coaches lifestyles. Being able to video a coaching session and then share it remotely with a mentor or the players themselves, means a coach can run a session in her own club or at a local sports field.
Other female coaches who are making their way up the coaching ladder are Tsoanelo Pholo from South Africa and Belgium’s Joy Jouret.
“There are definitely cultural barriers that prevent women from becoming professional coaches,” says Jouret. “I don’t think there are formal barriers, I personally haven’t been confronted to any kind of discrimination. But in my opinion, Informal barriers do exist and they are linked to our cultural heritage.
However with phoes, tablets and computers, now widely used and even drones, hi tech cameras and improving psychology playing a role in the game Pholo thinks technology will play an increasingly big role, particularly when it comes to coach education. “It makes connectivity so much easier. And it is ever-evolving, so it is important that we keep up with what is relevant and explore what is most effective.”