We meet two female coaches thriving in men’s football who are benefiting from UEFA’s Coach Development Programme for Women, which is offering more opportunities than ever before to advance within the game.
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Thanks to UEFA's Coach Development Programme for Women, more female coaches than ever before are turning a passion into a career.
Recognising a shortage of female coaches in the game, UEFA launched the programme in 2016, offering scholarships to ease the financial burden on women wanting to develop their skills and turn coaching from a hobby into a profession.
Since its launch, the Coach Development Programme for Women has now helped 1,645 people gain a UEFA coaching licence, from the Pro level in the elite game to the C Licence for grassroots coaches.
Courses are delivered via UEFA’s member national football associations, seeking to increase the number of qualified female coaches and the number of club and national teams coached by women.
2022/23 UEFA Coach Development Programme for Women scholarship numbers
Last season, UEFA distributed 388 coaching scholarships to women across Europe, taking the total numbers since 2016 to 1,645.
Elite Youth A 8
Youth B 4
GK A 1
GK B 5
Making waves in men’s football
In total, beneficiaries from 52 out of UEFA’s 55 associations have now received scholarships through the Coach Development Programme for Women.
Among them is Germany’s Marie-Louise Eta, assistant coach with Union Berlin’s men’s Under-19 team, which this season is experiencing UEFA Youth League football for the first time after the club’s senior team qualified for the Champions League.
Eta was a midfielder in the Frauen-Bundesliga and a Germany youth international before turning to coaching, receiving a scholarship to study for her UEFA Pro Licence in the 2021/22 season. "Football has always been a passion of mine and that started in my childhood," she explains. "During my career as a player, I started working as a coach at the same time. I realised that I have a lot of fun doing that and that I am fully invested. I can pass my ideas and experiences on to the players. I really enjoy collaborating with others and being on the pitch and working in football every day."
In England, Lydia Bedford, who with UEFA help gained her Pro Licence in 2019, has shown that there are different ways into coaching, even within men’s football. Bedford, a former PE teacher, was this summer named head coach of Premier League club Brentford’s men’s Under-18 team, having previously worked in the women’s game with the English Football Association, Leicester City and Arsenal.
"For me, football started quite late. I only seriously got involved with the game when I went to university," she says. "I always loved it, always enjoyed playing it at school but never played for a club team or at any notable level. By the time I graduated four years later, I had my B licence and was coaching four nights a week and two different teams every weekend.
"I did five years as a teacher, but throughout that time, my passion for coaching just continued to grow and in the end my job became a way to afford to be able to coach voluntarily and do all of that."
Women coaching in men’s football remain a minority, but both Eta and Bedford are evidence that opportunities are there.
"I’ve earnt the opportunity to be here and I know I’ve got the skills and attributes that will help those players get better so for me it’s just about focusing on the football," Bedford says.
Eta believes that holding UEFA’s Pro Licence, Europe’s top coaching qualification, makes a huge difference in the way she is regarded.
"Through the Pro Licence, I have a different standing, people perceive me differently," says the 32-year-old. "The licence does have significance and content-wise, it is an excellent training course. It was a dream of mine to participate."
EURO youth champions benefit from scholarships
Wherever you look, progress is being made, with two ex-internationals also catching the eye. Spain's Sonia Bermudez led her nation to the UEFA Women’s Under-19 EURO this year, having benefited from a UEFA B/A Licence scholarship during the 2021/22 campaign. She recently started her UEFA Pro diploma course, also with financial support through the programme in July.
Peggy Provost was in charge as France became Women’s Under-17 EURO champions. She received the UEFA Elite Youth A scholarship back in 2020/21.
How can you get involved in the UEFA Coach Development Programme for Women?
For information about the UEFA Coach Development Programme for Women and information relating to specific coaching courses contact your national football association.