How the FA are creating the next Leah Williamson, Kateryna Monzul and Sarina Wiegman.
Updated: May 1
The summer that changed women’s football.
People of all identities gathered at the home of football to witness history.
An unforgettable legacy was created 'For All', as the Lionesses became victorious over Germany.
But how did Williamson, Monzul and Wiegman reach this stage in their preferred profession?
Support and progression is vital in the development of young girls in football, something the Football Association are huge advocates for. With more and more initiatives being introduced, the future of women’s football is exciting.
An insider of the London FA office at Wembley Stadium.
On the 31st July 2022, the Lionesses rewrote history as European Champions. Since lifting this trophy, change has been created for little girls wanting to be the next Leah Williamson leading their country on the pitch, Kateryna Monzul officiating a European final or Sarina Wiegman guiding her team to success off of the pitch.
Despite many organisations now hopping on the trend to advocate for the women’s game, inspiring the next generation of girls has been at the forefront of the FA’s focus for numerous years.
Portrait of Shannon Hyner from the London FA Website.
Football development officer, Shannon Hyner, notes that one of her favourite programmes that has been running for over 3 years is the 100FC:
“I’ve been involved with the 100FC project just a little bit after it started, not so much as the lead in it but as a support.
The 100FC programme is a coach programme for females, so it is aimed to surplus the demand, as there’s lots more girls getting involved in football but we don’t necessarily have the coaches to support that.
As there’s a lot of male coaches in the pathway, getting more females to get their level 1, which we will fund for them, is very important. It’s been a really exciting programme, and it also won the Football Development country FA award”.
This award winning initiative between Amateur FA, London FA and Middlesex FA, with the backing from Wembley stadium National Trust, has seen a rise in participation of both young female coaches but also educators in this area:
“We’ve now got over 150 women on the books who are running coach education across London, some have even gone on to do their Level 2 and UEFA C”.
Not only does the FA offer many exciting opportunities for women and girls wanting to be involved on the pitch and sidelines, but also a range of positions behind the scenes. As a Football Development officer, Shannon’s work is predominantly away from the pitch ensuring women and girls have the opportunities they deserve through recreational projects:
“Recreational programmes include; Squad girls football for girls aged 12-14, Wildcats for girls aged 5-11 and Just Play which is for anyone above 16”.
Offering a plethora for Education and Programmes is a pathway in football that many are unaware of. Other roles the FA offer go under the radar, but without these crucial positions the FA wouldn’t be able to create football 'For All'.
Although the FA provides for those that desire elite football, Shannon places a huge emphasis on the importance of recreational activity for women and girls:
“I think a lot of people assume that the competitive pathway is the only option for girls, so just having more grassroots available for everyone has always been a passion of mine”.
It’s what happens off the pitch that is exceptional at the FA.
These inspirational quotes can be found on Instagram via @luce.case.
‘The FA are sending off stereotypes’ with their new all-female referee courses. In the above video London FA referee Jawahir Roble ‘JJ’ and Middlesex FA referee Shelley Howard both gain an insight into the impact being a referee has had on them.
Shelley went onto highlight the importance of the choice that implementing all-female referee courses has had in already existing counties, in which the London FA will follow suit next month:
“I think it’s very good that there are options for both. There are options to be the only girl, but also to be with only girls”.
The FA are working hard to create even more options for career paths in football, with refereeing as a priority. Shannon notes how the hopes to almost replicate the 100FC for referees:
“A strand of the 100FC that we’re looking to deliver is a referee version of that.
We will look to incorporate the 100FC and see if we have coaches who also want to do their referee qualification, as we always promote coaches to referee to gain an insight into how difficult being a referee can be.”
London FA’s Referee Development Officer, Deryll David, is a driving force for many new referee projects being introduced for women. Shannon briefly mentioned the excitement surrounding these initiatives, as anyone can be a referee with the correct support:
“With Ameteur FA and Middlesex FA, they’ve already had female only referee sessions and WSL referees come in to deliver CPD and Q&A sessions with other female referees.
We’re also trying to elevate the profile on our social media, so recently we did interviews with some referees. One of them was a mum who decided to referee her child’s game as there weren't any referees available!"
"There’s loads of good stories out there, and so many different reasons why women get into refereeing. I think it’s important to pick those up and support them in the best way that we can”.
Jawahir’s story is fascinating, as she is the UK’s first black, female, hijab-wearing referee. Despite having an MBE, JJ has a very humbled and friendly aura, in which she hopes to inspire many young girls to not let their identity define their ability:
“I’m going to try and stay in the game for as long as possible, so that I can show as many girls from all backgrounds that this is an option”.
More of JJ’s wisdom can be found in her recent Q&A at the Girls Super League.
With the knowledge that the FA banned women’s football for 50 years between 1921 and 1971, Shannon reveals that the structure of the current FA, specifically London FA, shows that a new progressive leaf is being turned over:
“We’re really lucky at the FA that we’ve got a pretty 50-50 split in terms of female to male ratio. Our CEO is very good, he used the London population guidance, so that everything representing London football should be the 50-50 split.
“Having unison in every area of identity and representation I think is really important. Seeing those people at the top and if I can stand and deliver something and people see that they can be a football development officer at the London FA, then I think that means a lot.
Football wasn’t an option for me at school, so I’d really like that to be available to girls. Knowing that if you fall out of the competitive side, that there’s a space for you somewhere else”.
A cloudy day at the Girls Super League.
As Shannon Hyner states: “the desire is there, it’s not stopping or slowing down. These programmes keep coming in and filling those gaps and we just continue to grow”.
This level of support and progression is required to nurture the next Shannon Hyner, Jawahir Roble and Shelley Howard.
People of all identities are encouraged to participate and create history.
The organisation that continues to change women’s football 'For All'.
The Football Association.