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Country: Russia

Organisation responsible: #tagsport Football Academy, GirlPower Football School

Main topic addressed: Gender equality in coaching

Type of resource/practice: Education

Discipline: Football

Target group(s): Football coaches

Timing: Ongoing

Language: Russian

Brief description of the practice: A training course for kids' football coaches aimed at translating gender equality values

Content and objectives: 

Context: The belief that football is a "men’s sport" is deeply ingrained in Russian society. This stereotype is, unfortunately, often shared by football coaches, even at grassroots level. Generally, kids' football coaching in Russia is still based on harsh principles — "objective" results are favoured over individual development, kids experience a lot of pressure, only the strongest survive.
We run a kids' football academy and a women's football school based on an entirely different set of principles. When our projects started to grow and we were looking for new staff, we were faced with a lack of coaches that would share our approach. So, we had to set up a training course for kids' coaches.

Goal: We aim to challenge the prevailing stereotypes in football coaching and to contribute to raising a new generation of kids' football coaches who will share the values of gender equality and respect for children.

Objectives: Our objective is to teach future coaches how to implement these principles in practice:

  • Respect for children;
  • Individual approach to all kids irrespective of their physical abilities and skills; Focus on individual motivation and not on achievement or result;
  • Gender equality / girls training together with boys;
  • Inclusion of kids with special developmental needs.

Our course is not aimed at replacing the Russian Football Union Academy course, which is a mandatory course that future coaches should take before they are eligible to take a licence exam. There, coaches obtain fundamental knowledge about physiology, training techniques, performance evaluation etc. Our course, on the other hand, is aimed at creating the right mindset and teaching future coaches about gender equality, kids' motivation, conflict resolution, and other related skills.
Another objective of the course is to open the door to the coaching profession for women. We encourage women to apply for our course and support them throughout their education towards becoming licensed coaches.

Steps/activities of the practice: Since 2016, we have held three coaching courses, each lasting from two weeks to two months. The courses include both theoretical classes and practical sessions where students observe and discuss real training sessions and then plan and lead their own training sessions under supervision of our senior coaches.
After completion of our course, successful students who decide to take up a coaching career go on to complete the Russian Football Union Academy course and take the coaching licence exam.

Resources required: The courses are held under the auspices of our kids' football academy and taught by the academy's coaches. All the courses except the last one, were funded by the academy's own resources, and were free-of-charge for students. The last course in 2018 was funded by a grant from Nike.

Achievements and outcomes: We have trained over 30 coaches who went on to continue a coaching career, including 8 female coaches. Some coaches stayed to work in our academy; some went on to train elsewhere. All of our graduates have an understanding of gender equality issues and share our values in that respect.

Challenges and limitations: Since the coaches' academy began as a self-funded project, we had limited resources and were unable to invite guest speakers and experts until the last one in 2018.
Also (again due to limited resources) we were never able to put together a comprehensive written methodology to disseminate our knowledge and experience on a wider scale.

Follow-up ideas and future plans: We plan to continue holding coaching courses and to put together a written methodology and toolkit gathering all our experience and knowledge from the past courses. Furthermore, we are now putting together a course for PE teachers as a follow-up to our coaches' course. The course for PE teachers will also include gender equality issues.
Finally, we plan to create an online knowledge-sharing platform for coaches and grassroots football academies dedicated to involving girls in football.

Further information:

Contact person: Maria Suchkova,

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