Youth Soccer – Female Coaches Need to Get MORE Support
Dr. Dina Gentile on female coaches deserving our support.
Congratulations to Tom Sermanni who been named the USWNT Coach. We are fortunate to have so many qualified candidates from around the globe applying to take the helm of the best team in the world. I have no doubt that the players, fans, and columnists will support the decision of US Soccer because that is what is best for the game. In closing, I am not surprised by the decision, but saddened that a talented female coach is not the leader for the squad. I do however look forward to the games and the excitement that these top level professional female athletes will bring to the pitch the next time they represent the USA.
Dr. Dina Gentile explains how it is important to support women coaches in America. Shouldn’t that support start at the top? The U.S. Women’s National Team coach was Pia Sundhage. Should her era be replaced by a man? Should U.S. Soccer find another female coach for the job? What is our responsibility for the future of women coaches?
Christine Brennan, after the latest U.S. Women’s National Team’s friendly versus Germany, wrote a poignant article published in USA Today touching on why we need many more women in coaching positions. Many times we hear of job openings and most of us clearly want the most qualified person to be hired for these positions. If all things were equal, and women had the same exact opportunities as men in sport, I would say this is a major part of the hiring process.
However, all in sport is unequal and we must continue to advocate for the hiring of women to coach our daughters. When a soccer position for a women’s team opens, athletic directors get applications from male and female coaches, however when a men’s coaching job is available do we get the same number of females applying for that position – clearly not.
The opportunities to coach are quite limited for high level, top quality coaches at all levels because women are typically slated to coach only one gender while their male counterparts can and do coach both males and females.
The time has come for U.S. Soccer to hire the next leader to take this U.S. team that has captivated not only girls but also many boys to never give up and to always give 100% on the field while having fun doing it! Pia Sundhage was a terrific ambassador for the women’s game and quietly elevated the standards of coaching across this country with her knowledge coupled with her personality to connect with players on multiple levels in order to get the most out of their performances.
Now that Sundhage has stepped down a very significant void for US Soccer must be filled by someone who can continue to inspire and be a role model for girls across this nation.
There have been many names surfacing regarding who the next coach of the USWNT will be. The speculation points to a male coach taking the helm of the team. Do I have an emotional interest in who gets hired for the position? Yes, of course, I want to see a female coach direct and lead this team of powerful and strong women. Why? Because women have earned this coaching spot, there is a woman out there who can develop talent, sustain our high level of play, and win games for the U.S.. Instead of just finding the best person for the job, U.S. Soccer should simply find the best coach for the job who happens to also be female.
Brennan ends her article with a strong perspective and one we should all consider before judging why the next coach should be a woman.
“Encouraging U.S. Soccer to hire another female head coach is not about bowing to a quota system or some kind of feminist agenda. It’s about growing their game and the possibilities within it, showing every girl and woman on a soccer field that she can become a leader by seeing someone who looks like her coaching her team — and the U.S. national team as well.”
When our daughters play for strong coaches, and play with high-level females, and lift weights to develop muscles because Alex Morgan does, they become strong on the inside and confident on the outside.
For youth sport organizations, we must spend more time cultivating relationships with mothers of our players so they can feel secure in coaching or serving on the board of directors. Not enough women feel comfortable breaking the barrier that even youth sport knowingly or sometimes unknowingly has been created. Too often I have heard from many qualified women who feel that the old boys network in youth sport is too challenging to break and not worth the effort.
When BODs fail to recognize that the barriers to entry are real, they may lose out on getting a very important perspective from women and giving females in their membership to truly contribute to the program. I have a son and daughter, I would hope in 2012 both would be supported equally, have the same opportunities, and be valued for their insight.
Let’s continue to open our minds and opportunities to all, as we all know actions speak louder than words.
SoccerToday columnist Dr. Dina Gentile is a Professor of Sport Management at Endicott College. A volunteer youth coach herself, Dr. Gentile understands from both practical and theoretical experience what happens on the soccer field. Gentile has also coached the Endicott College Soccer Team for 11 years. Gentile is also the owner/director of Precision Soccer, LLC, which operates camps, clinics, and coach education training throughout the year. She is a former All-American and Academic All-American at Adelphi University. Gentile has been inducted into the Adelphi University and Endicott College Halls of Fame. In addition, she is a trainer with Positive Coaching Alliance and the Girls Program Director with New England Premiership Club – Benfica USA. She is the proud coach of her daughter’s and son’s soccer teams in Massachusetts.