AN INCENTIVE FOR CHANGE: Time for Women to be Coaching Women –No More Excuses
A Women In Soccer Series article written by Michael Barr.
Michael Barr, Technical Director, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer is one of the most successful soccer coaches in the country. Barr holds an USSF “A” coaching license, the NSCAA International Premier License, the National Youth License, and Scottish Football Association’s “B” license. Barr shares his provocative insights on the opportunities for women coaches in the world of American soccer.
Related Article: Women In Soccer 2017 Symposium
I remember watching the Championship match in 1999 as Brandi Chastain celebrated her winning penalty kick against China at the Rose Bowl.
I was watching with a large crowd gathered around a single television at a bar in Annapolis. I was attending a wedding reception and I believe half the reception left the adjoining ballroom to catch the final minutes. The usual passion to see our country meet the pinnacle of success followed her clinching goal but my thoughts were focused on something a bit deeper. I thought of all the great women athletes of the twentieth century who never had the opportunity to play soccer or for that matter most team sports that were available to men.
Girls who had amazing athletic ability but were excluded by the fact there were few teams available to participate with and many times the rules were altered because they were women. The lack of teams to play on in the past is reflected in the opinion of most sports historians that the world’s greatest female athletes participated in individual sports.
The opportunities for women athletes were dismal up until passage of Title IX in 1973 but the true effect of Title IX did not occur until the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act was proposed in 1994 and the signing into law of the “Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act” by George W Bush in 2002.
Since that law was passed opportunities for women athletes have grown tremendously but the number of female coaches in the college ranks have decreased dramatically. Forty three years ago 90% of all women teams were coached by women. At this time that number is 40%.
The biggest excuse you may hear is women do not have the flex time to raise a family and coach and yet in the 1970’s many were mothers who had families. To me there should be no reason why the number of women coaches should not be at the same level or more than the 70’s.
The number of women coaches for all Women’s sports teams in D1 2014/15 was 40.2%.
Surprisingly, the percentage of female coaches for Women’s D1 soccer was 27.4%.
There are fewer female coaches coaching soccer than other D1 sports.
Contributing factors may include but are not limited to the following reasons: lack of woman applying for the positions, lack of coaching qualifications or bias on the part of coaching selection committees. Whatever the reason this issue should be examined and addressed.
I have a suspicion that in many cases prejudice against women coaches stems from the belief of male parents that men have stronger backgrounds in the sport, are a more motivating influence or may be more demanding which brings about results.
The question in my mind is who is better to be a major influence on a young girl’s life than a woman who played soccer at a high club or collegiate level?
Haven’t the opinions that woman cannot be strong coaches diminished with the success of so many female players in the last fifteen years?
Why has US Soccer not examined the issues and come up with solutions or at least proposals to bring females into the coaching ranks on a more consistent basis.
Eastern Pennsylvania was a huge influence in the growth of women’s soccer in the eighties and nineties. Pioneers such as Charlotte Moran and Bob Urban pushed for women’s soccer at both the club and high school level. Presently, we have attempted to bring female coaches to work with our girls’ ODP teams at every age and encourage women to attend our coaching courses. We plan to bring back our “women only” coaching courses and pursue coaching courses with individual women’s teams from colleges within Eastern Pennsylvania.
Much of the work though should begin at individual clubs to find professional women coaches by encouraging former players to volunteer or take courses initially and bring in elite women players or coaches for clinics.
Appreciate the performance of these amazing athletes and support any efforts to bring a strong women’s professional league to the forefront with women head coaches and new women coaches at the collegiate ranks.
Michael Barr is a motivated, teacher and soccer coach with nationally recognized expertise and a thirty year history in working with top level soccer players, instructing youth coaches and speaking to numerous groups about player development.
Technical Director of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer, Barr is also a National Staff Coach for the United States Soccer Federation, Barr is a National Youth License Instructor, and holds the USSF “A” coaching license, the NSCAA International Premier License, the national youth license, and Scottish Football Association’s “B” license.