Coaching life since leaving University of Gloucestershire
5th February 2021
By Lottie Weeks – Graduate (Sport & Exercise Studies)
Growing up, I was incredibly fortunate to have an inspirational PE teacher who provided me with a strong appreciation for the value of good coaching in sport. In particular, I realised how important it is that young girls have role models and that gender stereotypes are challenged and deconstructed. These lessons were reinforced when I first began to coach at my local football club and led me to apply to UoG to study Sport and Exercise studies. It was here that my journey towards becoming a Girl’s and Women’s sport development manager truly gained momentum.
My passion for football led me to take the football level 1 qualification in first year and, in my third year, I had a placement within a primary school. This experience enhanced my desire to coach professionally and reinforced my appreciation for the value of good coaching. My studies also instilled in me a passion for learning and self development, something which I hold with me to the present day. After I graduated, I was fortunate to find a part time job coaching for Arsenal Soccer Schools where I worked for a year. This position allowed me to gain valuable experience coaching an U10 boys & U16 girl team and allowed me to further hone my coaching skills and put the knowledge I had gained from my studies into practice.
However, while I found this job rewarding, I had to do it around my primary employment and became frustrated with the lack of opportunities to develop these skills further. This led me to leave the security of the work I had found to take a temporary job at a summer school in Bristol – a decision which turned out to be one of the best of my life. For the first time I found myself realising and truly believing that I could make a career out of coaching.
After my temp contract ended, I began to look for more coaching jobs and found some part time work at a coaching company called ‘Shine’. This quickly turned into a full-time position and it was here that my professional and academic experience and passion for football finally came together.
I quickly worked my way up through the company until I reached my current position – a Girl’s and women’s sport development manager. Throughout, I have been determined to create more sporting opportunities for children. Most notably I collaborated with the ‘Wildcats’ project, an FA initiative to encourage more girls to take up football. Through this scheme, I helped Shine set up two dedicated centres in the Bristol and Gloucestershire area and we have since set up 3 more. This has been an incredibly rewarding experience and winning ‘Wildcats centre of the year’ in 2019 was one of the highlights of my career so far.
This experience fueled my desire to further develop my career and led me to apply for and complete my football level 2 qualification. I also seized several opportunities available in Bristol through the Gloucestershire FA (GFA) and, during my level 2 course, I became a mentee in the FA Women’s High Performance Centre (FAWHPC) and an U10 girls coach for the next generation squad for the GFA. These achievements led to me attaining a place on the UEFA B course and helped me become an U16s coach for the girls’ Advance Coaching Centre (ACC) for the GFA too. In addition to my ongoing UEFA B course, I am now coaching full-time through Shine as well as previously mentioned with the GFA and at Bristol Rovers Women. I hope to continue to hone my coaching skills and develop my career in the football industry. I could not have achieved what I have without the experience and skills I gained at UoG and the support from people through the GFA. I hope that others will follow in my footsteps to build a career in the industry that I love.
Lottie Weeks – UoG Graduate 2012
(Sport & Exercise Studies)