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  • Soccer Without Borders

Investing in Youth Leadership

A key strategy for getting more #GirlsintheGame is investing in women coaches and creating pipelines for emerging leaders within our organization. Women coaches are a key to unlocking girls' participation and serve as visible role models on and off the pitch. At SWB Uganda, our assistant coach program supports older participants to hone their coaching and leadership skills. Here WSC Fellow Lauren Zarefoss shares about her experience coaching with Providence, an Assistant Coach and emerging young leader at SWB Uganda.

Providence leads a closing circle with the U14 girls

I have had the privilege of coaching the U14 girls' team this season alongside Providence, one of our players from SWB's most senior team. While Providence has only been coaching for a few months, the U14 Sharks have quickly adopted her into the team. As one of the SWB participants that attended the Women Take The Lead event in October, Providence has continued to integrate the strategies shared through those workshops and use them to develop her coaching style as a part of SWB's Youth Coaching program.

Providence explains a drill before demonstrating it

As a new coach, one of the biggest challenges can be learning how to earn both trust and respect from your team. Providence has navigated that challenge with the U14 Sharks and at first was a little quiet which led to some players being unable to hear the instructions or struggle with focusing on the drill at hand. As Provi noticed this and gained more experience, she has been much more comfortable not only in being louder but also in using her voice to speak up and take charge on the pitch. Already, her growing confidence has made such a difference for the Sharks both in how players respond to the coaches and their level of enthusiasm at our sessions.

During one recent practice in particular, Providence served as the head coach for the day. As her assistant I was assigned to set up the cones and keep time. This opportunity to watch Providence step up as a leader was incredible! She did a great job leading our team through the drill. It was also clear that she was happy and full of energy; Providence embodied the SWB mantra of, "You play best when you're smiling," maintaining her high energy while also making sure we were all doing the drill correctly.

Coach Provi and Daniella leaving the pitch

What made me most excited to coach with Providence was seeing how prepared she was to lead her training that day. Coach Provi never needed to refer back on how to do a drill or support explaining it; she knew her plan backwards and forwards. Before the session, Provi selected one specific drill that we learned while at Women Take Lead workshop. She felt very comfortable leading this drill and integrated it into the practice plan she created ahead of time. Providence's plan for the session that she shared was beyond any coach's wildest dreams and included notes and visuals on how to do each exercise. Providence's thoroughness certainly translated to confidence on the pitch.

As a coaches we always hope to make an impact on our players and support everyone's collective learning. Whether its from our training on SWB’s senior team, fellow SWB coaches, or the Women Take the Lead coaches we are learning from, Providence has been using various strategies to develop her own style and is coming into her own as a coach, especially in recent trainings. We can't wait to see how she will continue to lead and coach in the future!


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