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SSE Wildcats Session led by Lauren Taft

Coaches in the Spotlight

Derbyshire FA
The latest instalment of Coach in the Spotlight focuses on Soccerstars’ Zoe Millington and Lauren Taft

Every two months we will bring you an interview with one of our dedicated coaches to provide you with insight into their football and coaching experience. Who knows, you could feature in the next article or it may even encourage you to give coaching a try!

This month it is slightly different however, as we are focusing on two coaches who have played a huge role in delivering SSE Wildcats sessions for girls in our county!

For those of you who are new to Wildcats, the initiative provide girls with regular opportunities to play football and to take part in organised sessions in a fun and engaging environment created exclusively for girls. We have 16 centres in Derbyshire, so if you would like to find out more or would like to know where your nearest centre is, click here.


How Did You Get Into Football?

ZM: I started playing football at primary school because my friends played every lunch time. Fortunately, I wasn’t put off by being the only girl at the afterschool football club (and the fact the boys wouldn’t pass to me) because it was a coach there who invited me to trial for the Girls Centre of Excellence. I used to enjoy playing midfield until I went in goal one day, which I literally threw myself into and found I had a talent for and I’ve been a goalkeeper ever since.

LT: My dad got me into football from the age of 3; he has always been my inspiration from his passion and hard work in football. From my dad motivating me I started my football from the age of 8 at Derby County Ladies and now I’m currently in the reserves team for Derby County Ladies.


When Did You Start Coaching?

ZM: I started coaching football when I was 15. I realised that as well as playing I was really interested in passing on my knowledge and experience to younger players, so when I was asked if I would like to coach the goalkeepers at an FA Girls Player Development Centre, I jumped at the chance. This then led onto other opportunities.

LT: I started coaching in 2014 by doing work experience whilst I was studying at secondary school/college to begin my platform of coaching. In 2016 I began my first coaching job at SoccerstarsUK, currently working there now and I love it!! We run a Wildcats Centre which is fantastic; and we look to encourage more and more girls to play football. Passing what I do on to younger girls is one the best things about coaching!! This centre allows girls, of all abilities, to get involved and improve into footballers.

What Coaching Courses Have You Completed?

ZM: I currently have the FA Level 1 Football Coaching qualification and I’m an FA Licenced Coach so I have First Aid and Safeguarding qualifications too. I completed a Sports Coaching and Development qualification at college and I’m currently studying Sports Coaching at university. I have Level 2 qualifications in other sports and I’m looking to complete my FA Level 2 Football Coaching qualification before leaving university. I’ve also completed FA CPD courses.

LT: I have completed my FA Football coaching in Level 1, Level 2 in multi skills and received my Level 2 in leadership. However I am aiming this year to start my level 2 and progress further through the qualifications I need.


Have Your Coaching Qualifications Helped Outside Of Football?

ZM: My qualifications and volunteer coaching experience have certainly helped me get my job with SoccerstarsUK where I coach football to children at afterschool and holiday clubs and FA Wildcats sessions. They have also helped with my successful applications to college and university and my achievements there. The confidence you gain from doing the qualifications along with such as safeguarding, first aid, communication, organisation and planning skills are things that employers like to see for many different types of job.

LT: 100%, it has increased my ability to do things each day. It has really helped me so far in my first year of studies at Sheffield Hallam University, I have more confidence to try new things, how I process my work within university and when studying practically and theoretically I can tell I have improved significantly.


The Best Thing About Coaching Is...

ZM: Seeing not only the instant successes but the gradual progress made by players over the season. I’ve recently started coaching FA Wildcats sessions and seeing the girls’ enthusiasm and confidence grow every week as they develop their love of physical activity and their football skills, is hugely rewarding. Seeing the inspiration they get from having a female coach and realising they can be a footballer and do what I do too, is great.

LT: The best thing about coaching for me is making a difference. Seeing each child enjoy the session I am delivering to them and progressing in their fundamentals of movement and sport is the best feeling!!


Any Advice For A Female Wanting To Get Into Coaching?

ZM: My advice is look for all opportunities to get involved in coaching, whether voluntary or paid, to improve your knowledge and gain experience. Approach clubs, coaches and players you know – it’s amazing who knows who and how willing people are to help. Look for courses aimed at developing and mentoring female coaches such as one I attended that was run by Derbyshire FA. Above all, don’t let anything put you off. It can be daunting being the only female on a course or seeing the surprise on children’s and parents’ faces that their football coach is female but in my experience everyone is very welcoming and female coaches are in high demand.

LT: My advice would be to go for it! Take any opportunity that comes to you; be open to be pushed out your comfort zone. For me doing things completely has made me so much better and now I am more confident to do anything. The more you complete as coach and get involved, the more successful you will be!!

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