by Ian Fitzell
ALL eyes will be on the Stade de Lyon in France tonight, as England’s Lionesses take on the might of Team USA in the semi-final of the World Cup.
And that includes those belonging to the students of the second female-only UEFA B Licence coaching course, run by the Football Association of Wales Trust.
Delegates have been set the task of analysing tonight’s game as they watch from their base at Dragon Park in Newport.
Evening session begins on Female Only @FAWCoachEd / UEFA B Licence Residential Course with candidates analysing the Women’s World Cup Semi Final of Eng v USA fantastic opportunity to do some live analysis 🏴⚽️📺 pic.twitter.com/ERrEZsm1jU
— Nicola Anderson (@nicanderson27) 2 July 2019
The match looks set to draw the largest audience in history for a women’s only sporting event. And the next generation of female football coaches to go through the programme will be among those paying close attention.
Homegrown names such as Natasha Harding, Rhiannon Roberts and Elise Hughes, as well as former USA international Kelly Lindsay, are some of the current cohort.
Coaches who are ready to take the first step onto the UEFA ladder start with the six-day course. The likes of Michael Ballack, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira have all recently passed through the FAW UEFA B License programme.
Reading forward Harding was part of the Wales squad which narrowly missed out on the World Cup. Her side were unbeaten in the qualifying campaign until the final game – against England.
She is one of 14 candidates on the all-female course, which she says is vital to grow the women’s game.
“It’s a great opportunity and I think having a female-only course makes it a little more comfortable. It goes to show the direction that they [FAW Trust] are going in and they are doing it in the right way.”
Harding seems to have adapted well to the coaching role, but hanging up her boots is not something that is immediately on her radar.
“I don’t know if I think like a coach just yet, we’ll see when we analyse the game tonight to see if I watch it as a fan or a coach.
“You have to be able to put different hats on and maybe it will help me with my playing career so that I can see things from a different angle, so it’s interesting.”
Everton forward Elise Hughes is also thinking about life post-playing and said: “When I finish as a player, I don’t know yet when that might be, but I want to stay in the game, so coaching would be the next step.”
Hughes sees the need for more female coaches in the game as one of the key steps to its development.
“It’s really important and it’s an opportunity for females to get this qualification and is a good step for them into the coaching world.
“To have females in the game will be very beneficial as they think how a female would think which is important in an intense sporting environment.”