The English Football Association has announced St Mary’s University, Twickenham is one of its new FA Women’s High Performance Football Centres (FA WHPFC).
Announced at the British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS) conference, St Mary’s is one of ten institutions that have achieved this status. The appointment will see the University receive funding for a Women’s Football Coach Development Officer in addition to an annual grant to:
- Provide bursaries for coaches to attend FA Coach Education courses
- The development of mentoring programmes
- Continuing Professional Development of coaches
- Support the overall development of the workforce to support women’s football.
The creation of the FA WHPFCs comes in support of the FA’s goals for 2020 to double participation, double the fan base and see consistent success globally in women’s football.
Baroness Sue Campbell, The FA’s Head of Women’s Football said, “The establishment of these centres is a further proof point of The FA’s commitment to transform the future of women’s football in England. They will ensure aspiring coaches and talented players in all parts of the country have access to the best training and support possible, providing us with the greatest opportunity for success at all levels of international football.”
The centres aim to enrich the student experience and satisfaction, whilst boosting graduate outcomes and employability. In its proposal to the FA, St Mary’s demonstrated its ability to deliver these outcomes by drawing on experience and input from Sport St Mary’s, the School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, the Sport Education programmes, and the Partnerships Team.
Speaking of the announcement, Director of Sport St Mary’s Andrew Reid-Smith said, "We are seeing wonderful achievements in women's football and clearly the time is right to drive the game forward. St Mary's is hugely excited to be working with the FA and the other WHPFC's to ensure that every girl and women has an excellent experience, to support them with opportunities to realise their full potential."
Visiting Professor at St Mary’s and former Chairman of the FA Greg Dyke added, “The Women’s game is undergoing a great period of development and growth. During my time at the FA I passionately campaigned to diversify the game and I am delighted to see this being lived out at St Mary’s. I can’t wait to see students reap the rewards of this programme.”
St Mary’s already has a wide knowledge base in football, as it offers a Foundation degree programme in Football Education, Coaching and Development in partnership with Chelsea FC Foundation, a PhD funded by Fulham FC on molecular exercise in physiology and a PhD funded by Crystal Palace’s Palace for Life Foundation on the psychological and social development of primary school children, a new postgraduate programme in development on football coaching, and the Women’s Football First Team is the top ranked team in London and competes in the BUCS Premier South League.