FFA Women’s Technical Advisor Rae Dower hails Football Queensland's first ever female only B Licence coaching course

Football Queensland will launch the first ever female B Licence coaching course at the beginning of next year with Westfield Junior Matildas head coach Rae Dower set to be at the forefront of the initiative.

Westfield Junior Matildas' Head Coach and Football Federation Australia Women’s Technical Advisor Rae Dower will lead female coaches into new territory at the start of 2021 when Football Queensland hold an Australian first, all female B Licence coaching course in the summer holidays.

This landmark course will focus on a specific group of female coaches which previously have often fallen through the cracks due to their work commitments.

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“Historically a number of female coaches, due to a number of barriers don’t get to go beyond a C Licence in the Advanced Coaching pathway which precludes them from taking up certain coaching roles.  Primarily the cost has been a bit prohibitive, but also the lack of opportunity to attend courses which are generally held during business hours throughout the week,” Dower told Matildas.com.au.

“A lot of the coaching fraternity across Australia and locally here in Queensland are teachers, so one of the primary objectives of holding this female only course was to be able to target teachers who are coaching and teaching every day of their working life.

“The opportunity for them to be able to do a B Licence during school holidays means we can accommodate as many of these women as possible and they don’t have to sacrifice their employment to attend.”

The timing of the course is expected to line up well given that many people will be based at home with the COVID pandemic having all but put long distance holidays on hold for the time being.

“We thought the timing was important in that a lot of people may not go away for school holidays, not able to go on that overseas trip they may have previously planned,” Dower said.

“So with people expected to stay fairly local, we thought it would be a great opportunity to link it up with our Queensland school holidays.

“To give up their holidays for a specific purpose to advance their coaching qualifications and enhance their professional development is an important consideration.”

The general practice has been that coaching courses across the country have been mixed gendered, however, the ratio of men to women has usually been quite unbalanced.

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“A lot of people see the benefit of having mixed courses, but if you’re that one or two females on the course, which was pretty much me for the majority of my coaching education, some people might find that a bit challenging and a bit daunting,” she said.

The feedback we had from our female C Licence was very positive and a number of those candidates said that they’d welcome the opportunity to experience something like that again.  That feedback has been echoed across the country with the other female only courses that have been held."

The environment created in the female C Licence course was a bit more relatable to some of the candidates giving them the opportunity to examine specific players and scenarios from the female game.

“A group of women being able to talk about the game to one another utilizing specific examples of female players, vision and analysis from FIFA Women’s World Cups, some found those aspects more appealing and felt more engaged; the feedback was pretty strong around that,” Dower said.

According to the Junior Matilda’s coach, the introduction of a variety of coach education methodologies, like using digital platforms and this female only course will help reduce the gap in representation between male and female coaches.

I think visibility around more female coaches traversing that advanced pathway is vitally important.  The goal is to see more female coaches in elite coaching roles where it presents as more ‘normalised’ and not an exception.”

“That can provide awareness and motivation for other players and coaches coming through to see that there is a pathway for female coaches and that there are opportunities to forge a career as a professional coach”.

“Visibility really is the key, I know it’s thrown out there as a cliché at times, but you can’t be what you can’t see.  For those footballers who might not go on to reach the elite level as players, they see that there are other opportunities to stay involved, give back to the game and continue to play an integral role in the development of our game.”

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This course would not have been possible if not for the support of Football Queensland and the Football Federation Australia in being adaptable and flexible around the course design and delivery.

“It’s a wonderful initiative, with great support from Football Queensland to want to pilot flexibility around the course, from adjusting the start and finish times to deal with the Summer heat, to utilizing our own QAS players for the practical sessions.  They’re real pioneers in this space and it forms a major part of our strategic plan where women and girls are at the forefront of everything we do as an organisation,” she said.

“Putting my hat on as that lone one or two females in the course for most of my career, I think it’s great to be able to provide this opportunity for these women to further their own development.

“The initiative is also aligned with Principle X of the FFA’s XI Principles by embracing the opportunity to increase the number of female coaches to grow the talent pool.  This course will remove some of those long-standing barriers for women and that can only build our depth of coaches into the future.”