Women coaches 'need clear route' into male-dominated world

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Judy Murray says women 'need clear route' into coaching

Women need a clear pathway into coaching to succeed in a male-dominated environment, say industry experts.

Only 11% of the 3,225 coaches at London 2012 were women, the International Council for Coaching Excellence found.

"I think the lack of female coaches doesn't inspire us to want to be coaches," said two-time world taekwondo champion-turned-coach Sarah Stevenson.

Tennis coach Judy Murray said more women decision-makers were needed to "make things happen for other women".

GB Fed Cup captain Murray - formerly coach to her sons Andy and Jamie - said she was not surprised about the coaching statistic from the London Olympics, given most of the coaches on the women's tennis tour are men.

"I think it follows that more female coaches will encourage more girls to get into sport," she added.

Programmes such as UK Sport's Athlete to Coach scheme aim to fast-track elite athletes into coaching, particularly women.

Judy Murray on her influences
"Three significant things in my coaching, in terms of opportunity and encouragement to push myself further, were all created for me by women. I think that's quite significant."

Five of the 11 participants currently in the scheme are female.

"For us, a programme like this creates a fantastic opportunity for women to be able to get into coaching and that's what we're trying to do," said Sarah Craven of funding and promotional body UK Sport.

One of those chosen for the Athlete to Coach scheme is four-time Olympian Stevenson, who told BBC Sport she never had a female coach and believes she can offer something different.

"I was the first female coach and the first person who was there to empathise, especially with the younger females," she said.

Sarah Stevenson four-time Olympian
Sarah Stevenson (right) took up coaching after retiring

Craven suggests the support for elite women coaches will trickle down to the volunteers at club level with the pathway aiming not only to tap into an athlete's experience but provide more female sport role models.

An additional prospect is gaining a competitive advantage over other countries who are not making use of their own untapped resources.

Another participant in the scheme, former GB boxer Amanda Coulson, illustrates the influence of greater female involvement in coaching - shortly after she joined Hartlepool Catholic Boys Boxing Club, the word 'Boys' was dropped from the title.

"Now that there are female coaches on the GB team there are role models for other aspiring coaches to go down the high performance path as well as female athletes out there boxing," Coulson said.

"The door's open now."

A conference being held on Thursday is aimed at transforming sport for the benefit of every woman and girl in the United Kingdom from coaching to sponsorship to leadership.

It is being delivered by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.