Former England Soccer Boss Returns to What She Loves -Developing Players and Building a Team
Hope Powell is the all-time pioneering Women’s Football Manager — head coach of England’s Women’s National team for 15 years, Powell changed the face of soccer in the UK and is now back on the pitch, prepared to develop another crop of super talented women and take a small club to new heights in the WSL 1 — the grassroots for the future of the game.
Hope Powell is now at Brighton FC as Head Coach and loves being back on the grass, developing players to become their best.
The next ten years are crucial for the future generation of players to help grow the sport even bigger than it is today – in England as well as in the USA. The women’s game in England is more popular than ever and the fight for international supremacy is strong with more teams working on developing the future stars of tomorrow.
For the last year, Hope Powell has been back doing what she loves — developing players and building a club. Powell’s philosophy has always been to try to build rather than take a shortcut.
“I prefer to build, looking at homegrown talent.”
After leaving her role as women’s Head Coach at England’s FA, Powell traveled around the world, working with FIFA and the PFA, the Professional Football Association in the men’s game. She also wrote a great book, HOPE – My Life In Football
New Brighton & Hove Albion Women’s head coach Powell told BBC Sussex that she had an “itch” to return to coaching before landing her new role.
“I started to ‘itch’ for the grass.”
Soccer Today Interview with Hope Powell
Diane Scavuzzo: Are you happy being back in action as a head coach?
Hope Powell: Yes, Brighton came calling and it seemed like a really good opportunity, great club, great people with smart and sensible ambitions.
It just felt right for me and I’m really happy I’m at the club.
Diane Scavuzzo: So after 15 years running the national team, what is the major difference being the head of a club?
Hope Powell: The main difference is the contact time and the turn around of games. I actually feel like I’m in a constant tournament. The games come quick and fast — Sometimes three games in eight days, so this is quite a new experience for me.
And, it’s nice to be able to work with the same set of players on a daily basis. You get more time with players and that’s been really good, really exciting … You are really able to see their progression and where you need to influence their game more.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think that the schedule is too compressed?
Hope Powell: When you compare this 11 team league schedule to international football, which is maybe once a month, unless you’re in a major tournament which is a six-week solid stint, if you get to the finals — this feels more constant because the turn-around of games and having to prepare, watch one team, analyze your own team, work on the next team. It just comes around very quickly. But I think that’s part of the fun, actually.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your favorite part about being back on the pitch?
Hope Powell: I think having a team around you, Bouncing off ideas, and trying to build something; which is what I did at the FA.
Brighton is a team that really want to work and learn.
So it’s really nice to be able to work to help make the players better, share my experiences and hopefully facilitate their learning in a really positive way that makes them become better players.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you set goals for the players? What’s your approach?
Hope Powell: There’s a team target in the league. Our experiences in the WSL 1 for these players is quite minimal. We’ve been promoted out of the lower league. It’s tough for us, so we’re floating around the bottom. The target for us is to stay in the league.
Winning is a pressurized environment. Being at this level is pressure.
You find out who are the players that can manage the pressure and the players that can’t.
Some would say pressure is a privilege.
So we feel very privileged to be in this position where we’re in the top of the game in this country.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do players have goals to reach?
Hope Powell: We set targets. Players have their individual goals to help them become better. We let players know what they need to work on. We have one-to-one chats.
Players aren’t stupid. They know what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at.
Our job is to facilitate learning so that the things they’re not so good at, they can become better at. And, the things they are good at that they can become even better at.
Diane Scavuzzo: Are you thinking of writing another book?
Hope Powell: Probably not.
Diane Scavuzzo: I would think, as the head coach at Brighton, you are going to attract a lot of the best players in England to come to try out for your club. I would think they would all want to come knocking to have you coach them. Are you recruiting?
Hope Powell: We’ve had started to recruit. The Brighton brand in England isn’t a Man United, an Arsenal, or a Chelsea. And I think players are attracted to those big brands. And that’s okay. That’s my job. So that being said, we’re not going to attract the biggest players because the big players want to play in a champions league. They want to be fighting to win the league.
At this moment, Brighton is in a position where our priority is to stay in the league. So we’re not going to attract, necessarily, the best players to come to Brighton, because our brand isn’t big enough at this moment in time. And we don’t pay massive amounts of money.
And I’m really pleased with that.
I like that because my job, I’m more of a builder. I want to build the success. I want to develop players.
I want players to come through our academy system —that really excites me. And the players that we’ve got still want to be better. And I like the fact. I want to help them become better. That’s what I’m about.
Diane Scavuzzo: Well as a builder and after 15 years in the FA, what’s your assessment on where they are today?
Hope Powell: I think the FA has invested more money than they ever have, which is great, this is something that we have cried out for. Our league has gone from sort of a part-time league to a full-time program.
Diane Scavuzzo: How is England doing in developing the next generation of women for the country’s national team?
Hope Powell: Every young girl’s got the opportunity to become a professional footballer, which is fantastic.
I think we have to be mindful of the realities that they’re not gonna be millionaires. They all still need something to fall back on once football is over.
I think the FA are trying to put in an academy system that lines education and football at the same time. I think it’s quite a challenge. That isn’t easy. For me, it is really important that education isn’t forgotten and that players don’t play football at the expense of learning.
You need something to fall back on, don’t you? You need a second career.
Players don’t earn massive amounts of money. So at the age of 30, when they’re finished playing, they’ll still need money.
At Brighton, I make it clear that while you are playing, you have to be doing something else. We think about what happens next. I feel that’s really important.
If a player is interested in coaching, we offer coaching courses for the girls, level one, level two, — that we do for the PFA. We try and put them in an environment where they can use that for the future and have an opportunity to coach.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think women’s football in England is a second-class citizen to men’s?
Hope Powell: At this moment in time, yes, of course, it is.
But it’s a million miles ahead of where it was 10 years ago.
It’s a zillion miles ahead of when I was playing.