Women’s RYG roadshow hits Birmingham
Kick It Out’s Raise Your Game (RYG) series took to the road this week as the Women’s event took place at St Andrew’s, the home of Championship side Birmingham City.
After the success of the national conference in April, the specific Women’s event was a more intimate event, where those attending could chat informally with the selection of panellists and guests from across the game.
The day saw a number of guests welcomed by host, Kelly Somers, who works in the media team at AFC Bournemouth.
In the morning, Kelly was joined by Marieanne Spacey, England Women’s Assistant Manager, as she talked about her career, before inviting questions from guests.
“It was fantastic to see people who want to work in football and willing to utilise the experience of the panel,” explained Marieanne.
“Not being afraid to ask a question and being prepared to show a willingness to learn and progress is important. There’s also nothing wrong with believing in yourself and your attributes.”
A lively panel debate followed with Gemma Davies, Co-Producer at Sky Sports News, Kirsty Hulland, General Manager of Birmingham City Ladies, Vivienne Aiyela, Chair of the Anti-Discrimination Panel at The FA, and grassroots official Honor Cantrell. Each guest came from a different area of the game and explained about their route into the industry, while the four had questions fired at them from the audience.
A workshop, hosted by Toby French from Careers in Football, was the final part of the morning schedule as guests were treated to an insight into pathways into the game.
Toby said: “These events are fantastic, it’s great to see candidates engaging with each other and professionals and having the opportunity to ask questions.
“I wish I had the chance when I was younger. It is a fantastic opportunity for people to get out there and challenge what they want to do.”
Troy Townsend, Education and Development Manager at Kick It Out, added: “This was another important Raise Your Game event and development in the series.
“We were privileged to have an excellent mix of speakers and guests from a range of areas throughout the game, and their expertise was vital to those attending.
“The relaxed nature of the event meant that those attending could informally talk with our guests throughout the day and have an opportunity to gain some insight first-hand. Our thanks go once again to Birmingham City for hosting us and Birmingham City Ladies for being so co-operative and providing fantastic guests.”
Lunch provided an opportunity for attendees to mingle and for speakers and guests to mix with those aspiring to follow in their shoes.
Brendon Batson OBE, Consultant at The FA, joined Kelly after lunch as he spoke about opportunities within the coaching world for women.
He added: “The focus on women at an event is good, we’re trying to correct the lack of representation, in coaching and across the board, so events like this gives encouragement and signposts people and they can investigate further at their leisure.”
Kerys Harrop and Corina Schröder from Birmingham City Ladies then talked about their experiences, not only on the pitch but with combining playing the sport alongside studying and working.
Kerys was only too happy to contribute to such an event. “It was nice to share my experiences, my knowledge and my story of how I got into not only elite-level football, but also my job as a lecturer.
“The good thing about Raise Your Game is that you can get people in from different backgrounds and that showed. These women who’ve come today have got that advantage already because they’re meeting people in those areas – making contacts and networking is massive because it could lead to something for them.”
SI Games, the people behind Football Manager, were also in attendance, while Steven Balls, Workforce Recruitment Officer at Norwich City’s Community Sports Foundation, was there to see the type of candidates who are on the lookout for jobs.
Steven takes up the story: “It was nice to be able to attend and see what kind of candidates are out there.
“It is a good recruitment opportunity for us. In recruitment it is good to see what’s going on and to speak to people with advice for what they need to be doing to get their name out there and just open some doors and get your foot in.”
Sonia Pace, who is looking for work as a club liasion for players or supporters, appreciated the openness of guests who were willing to talk and offer advice.
“It’s quite nice to have a smaller environment because you feel like you can contact more people,” she explained.
“In the past I wouldn’t have been the sort of person that would go along and introduce myself to someone I’d never met before and I don’t know what to say or what questions to ask. But there’s no point being shy – if you want the information you have to ask.”
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