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Sally Needham Coaching at St George's Park

Sally Needham: Coach in the Spotlight

Derbyshire FA
The latest instalment of Coach in the Spotlight focuses on The FA’s very own Sally Needham!

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!

How did you get into football?

I used to go with my dad to watch Barnsley play when I was young and then decided I would like to start playing and I started doing so at around 10 years old. I carried on playing and played at college, which is where I got into coaching.

When did you start coaching?

I started coaching when I was 17.

What coaching courses have you completed?

UEFA A Licence, Advanced Youth Award (5-11 years) and Futsal Level 2.

Have your coaching qualifications helped outside of football?

I think doing the qualifications has helped me grow as a person, as on my AYA I was the only female on the course, therefore you gain some very valuable life skills that transfer into your personal life outside of football.

What are your coaching aspirations?

I do love working with the foundation phase and I also have a very keen interest in brain development and the psychological and social elements of the game, so maybe something within those areas.  I am very fortunate to work in football every day, so I also just want to keep enjoying my role as a County Coach Developer and also my coaching at Doncaster Rovers Belles.

The best thing about coaching is…

Seeing the development of the players as individuals and as footballers. I also love the social element of coaching within a coaching team, learning off of each other and, at the same time, enjoying the journey.

Who are your role models within football?

Julie Chipchase has been a major influencer in my coaching career and still plays a massive part in my development. She is an amazing person who I can talk to about anything and also challenges my thinking and gives me the confidence in myself.  

Another person who I very much admire is Pete Sturgess, again he is a great person and is far in front in his ideas and thoughts, not just in the Foundation Phase, but in coaching. He has been a massive influence as well in my coaching pathway and I am very fortunate to work with him on a regular basis.  His understated personality and his humbleness is something that everyone should aspire to have and be; he is truly one of the greats.   

Pete selected me to be involved in the Foundation Phase pilot group for the AYA and this, for sure, changed me as a coach and took my development into a different direction and for that, I will always be truly grateful to him.

Any advice for a female wanting to get into coaching?

Do it, do not be put off by maybe being the only female on the course. The life skills and maternal natural nature is a massive asset and something that a female brings to the start of a coaching journey. To understand, empathise and show a caring side to any child is vital for a coach to have and is needed to be able to support and help that child develop as a footballer.  

The football side can be learnt, however empathy and compassion is a little harder to learn, so go for it.  Also if you want to progress further in coaching you need to experience different ages, formats, girls and boys football and get to understand the game, which means exposing yourself to all of this. Step out of your comfort zone and go for it, as coaching is truly an amazing thing to do and to be a part of!

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