Amanda Greenslade proves female football coaching pathway is thriving with Doncaster Rovers Belles promotion
The pathways for youngsters to make it to a game that is experiencing rapid professional growth are also multiplying.
But what about female coaches? Is there a similar groundswell, and do they have pathways to the top?
At Doncaster Rovers Belles this week came evidence that there is a road to travel for the growing number of female coaches when Amanda Greenslade was promoted from the position of technical director to that of assistant first-team coach.
The 38-year-old who played top-flight football for Langford Ladies two decades ago will assist Ciaran Toner, the former Northern Ireland international who played for Grimsby, Harrogate and Guiseley among others, who was this week named manager of the fourth-tier side. Keen to promote from within, Belles named Greenslade as his assistant.
Greenslade’s day job is regional PE officer for the Football Association, but she has spent two decades dedicating her free time to women’s football, coaching after-school clubs, Camp America, Under-16s at Castleford Ladies and since 2018 overseeing the youth programme at the Belles.
“When I first joined the Belles we’d have about 40 to 50 girls that would come down to trial at the start of each season, we’re now up in the 200s of talented girls who want to come and join us,” said Greenslade.
“There’s been a real growth, especially at that younger age, and the standard has grown significantly in that time.
“We’re still really proud of the fact we’ve got a number of players here the last few years who have gone on to play at Sheffield United, Chelsea, Leicester - we are still producing players for the highest level of the female game.
“Belles have still got that pull for talented youngsters to come to and we want to continue that now into the first team and really push that first team up the pyramid.
"We’re getting better qualified coaches in as well, we’re getting more experienced coaches in and that’s helping the girls to develop.
"At Belles we try to continue that legacy of supporting female coaches within the club because that’s something that the board has always been passionate about.
“It’s nice I’ve been given an opportunity with the first team, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I always hoped it would be the next step in my career.”
The journey Emma Hayes has just taken from Chelsea to becoming the highest-paid women’s football coach in the world with the United States women’s team shows Greenslade - as she is showing others - that the possibilities are now there for female coaches.
“As soon as people like Emma Hayes get into those positions it inspires the next generation of female coaches to think if I work really hard on my craft and be the best I can be then those opportunities are out there,” said Greenslade.
“If you can see it, you can be it. Having that within the Belles, myself as technical director, it has allowed some of the younger female coaches to come in and say ‘okay I can do this’.”
Now comes the hard bit, getting Rovers Belles away from relegation trouble in FA Women’s National League Division One North. They are currently fourth-from-bottom with the bottom two going down.
Greenslade said: “Ciaran has got clear aspirations and a clear game model of how we’re going to play and the girls have bought into it.
“It was clear to me within that first meeting that I’m going to really enjoy working with him.
“He’s very skilled and knowledgeable and it was an easy decision for me to say I want to be involved with this.”