Kick It Out hosted two events during the 2014/15 season, with over 400 aspiring mentees attending two conferences which looked to help people with a pathway into the football industry.
Below are the reports from the Women’s Raise Your Game conference, held at West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground in October 2014, and the national Raise Your Game conference, held at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in April 2015.
Raise Your Game – National Conference
Watch the #RYG15 Video
Read the report here
In 2015, Emirates Stadium, the home of Arsenal FC, hosted Kick It Out’s annual Raise Your Game conference. Over 300 mentees hoping to advance their careers within the football industry were brought together with more than 90 mentors who gave bespoke advice and guidance to the next generation of the game’s workforce.
#RYG 2015 KEY STATS:
– 1,074 mentoring appointments
– 16,155 minutes of mentoring
– 269.25 hours of mentoring
Caroline Barker, BBC Radio 5live and BBC World Service presenter, hosted the day, kicking off proceedings by giving attendees a preview of what the conference had in store before introducing Arsenal’s Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis as the first guest speaker.
“This is an important conference designed to help people from diverse backgrounds forge careers in the game,” said Ivan. “Kick It Out is an organisation that is close to my heart, and I’m really passionate about connecting people with their passion. I hope this event provides the knowledge and confidence people need to take their careers forward.
Miles Jacobsen OBE, Studio Director of Sports Interactive, followed Ivan as the next speaker, and echoed his sentiments about hard work by telling the audience how he managed to swap two gig tickets for an opportunity. He explained the theory that if you do something you love, you never have to work a day in your life.
“You’ve got to be prepared to go the extra mile,” commented Miles. “You don’t get a minute of the day where you’re not working. You’re always thinking, dreaming, making notes. There are always challenges and new things around the corner. You make your own luck to some degree, but the hard work is the most important thing. Everyone is taking a really big step by being here today.”
The morning’s activity opened up with over 250 one-to-one mentoring sessions taking place and three workshops being run at the same time which focused on media led by BBC Sport, industry jobs and how the access them delivered by Careers in Football, and management and coaching facilitated by Yeovil Town Ladies Development Squad coach Jazz Hervin.
Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out, opened the afternoon session with a passionate speech touching on the role of football within society. Lord Ouseley talked about football being a force for good, how the people at the top of any industry are predominantly male and predominantly white, and the need for the game to embrace diversity across the board.
“Education is a very important part of what we do,” said Lord Ouseley. “We’re building a force for good, and football is capable of doing that. Football hasn’t created these prejudices but it does provide a platform for people to show them. We’re relying on the next generation to be better than the current one, and it’s great to see so many people in attendance for the conference once again.”
Shortly afterwards, England and Arsenal star Lianne Sanderson was invited on stage by Caroline to speak about how her career has taken her from London to America and back again, and how America truly celebrates individuality. She also reflected on growing up in England and the comments she faced when playing as part of a team of boys from the parents of opposition teams.
During the afternoon, a further 300 one-to-one sessions were delivered to mentees, and the workshops were replicated but with Clive Tyldesley, ITV Sport’s Lead Football Commentator, conducting the afternoon media workshop, in place of BBC Sport, as he spoke about the art of commentary and tips to help with employability.
“The Raise Your Game conference allows me to meet and talk to people who I wouldn’t normally have the chance to speak to,” said Clive. “I would say that Raise Your Game is incredibly uplifting as it provides an opportunity for young people seeking careers in and around football to be mentored by a variety of professionals within the game.”
The day closed with a panel discussion involving Charlotte Hodges, a mentee of Raise Your Game who is now working for the Daily Mirror, former Southampton and Reading manager Nigel Adkins, Watford first-team coach Dean Austin, Adrian Bevington, former Managing Director of Club England, and BT Sport presenter Reshmin Chowdhury, as they spoke about their pathways into the game.
Read the full review of the day here.
Women’s Raise Your Game
Boleyn Ground - 28 October 2014
Read the report here
Kick It Out held its second Women’s Raise Your Game conference at West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground on Tuesday (28 October 2014) as an array of leading female figureheads within the game offered their unique insight to aspiring mentees seeking opportunities in the football industry.
On a stimulating day at the ‘Academy of Football’, the mentoring event saw the likes of Kelly Simmons, The FA’s Director of the National Game and Women’s Football, Emma Hayes, Chelsea Ladies manager, and Shelley Alexander, the BBC’s Editorial Lead on Women’s Sport, share their thoughts and advice over 100 attendees.
The day opened with host Rachael Downie giving an overview of what was in store before Troy Townsend, Kick It Out’s Education and Development Manager, delivered a speech focusing on the history of Raise Your Game and the clear need for women’s specific events after attendance figures at the regional conferences in 2012 had shown that only 9% of attendees were women.
Kelly Simmons was then invited on stage to explain her career pathway, how she progressed to a senior position within the women’s game, and the determination and work ethic required to reach the very top. She spoke in depth about her role at The FA, the development of the Women’s Super League and the upcoming international between England Women and Germany Women at Wembley Stadium.
She said: “There is a lack of female role models but I think that is changing. If you’re going to progress in your career, you have to get out of your comfort zone. It can be awkward but it gets easier each time and I have been in that situation on numerous occasions. Sometimes there is just no substitution for preparation and hard work. Well done to you for coming down as you’ve already taken a key step on your career path.”
Kelly’s speech was followed by a morning of one:one mentoring, a coaching and officiating workshop and a careers advice session. The coaching and officiating workshop saw a panel consisting of Emma Hayes, Janie Frampton, Chief Executive of Sports Officials UK, Lucy May, Referee Development Officer at Northumberland FA and Kay Cossington, England Women’s Under-17s Head Coach.
The topics of discussion included the challenges facing women when it comes to earning respect and trust from their male counterparts as well as the advantages and disadvantages of volunteering within the game.
“It was a great opportunity to mix with people that are either involved in the game or aspiring to get to the top levels of the sport,” commented Emma. “It was certainly a diverse group and the mix in the panel was another reminder to these mentees on how hard you have to work to if you’re going to make it in this tough industry.
“The session was engaging and supporting to mentees and mentors alike and events like this are the type of support that the game needs going forward. Days like today are something I’ve been looking for for a long time for females, so that they are able to see how we do our jobs and how just meeting other people can indirectly open doors.”
In the afternoon session, Shelley Alexander, who is also Chair of Kick It Out’s Mentoring Delivery Group and a member of The FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, opened proceedings by speaking to the audience about opportunities across the game and asking all attendees to build on the friendly and helpful atmosphere of the morning period.
The afternoon saw the continuation of the one:one mentoring, the careers advice session and this time a workshop focusing on media which featured Anna Edwards, Producer of the ‘SportsWomen’ programme on Sky Sports News, Jess Creighton, a Freelance Sportswriter and Broadcaster, Amy Lawrence, Deputy Football Correspondent for the Observer, and Wendy Lloyd, a Camerawoman, Broadcaster and Journalist.
During the workshop, the panel discussed their own routes into working in football media before answering questions from the audience as mentees sought advice on the best ways for them to obtaining careers in the sport.
Jess, who regularly works for the BBC, stated the importance for mentees to have the right set of skills to succeed. She said: I’ve been really impressed by the talent here. However, in order to succeed in an industry as competitive as broadcast media, you need to have confidence and self belief in abundance. This is sometimes lacking when I speak to young women.
“The message that I have been giving is to remain determined even in the face of adversity. We’ve had some really useful discussions about the importance of work experience and how to get it.”
The day concluded with Troy Townsend leading a reflection of the day with selected mentors Samantha Johnson from Arise TV and Liz Ellen of Mishcon de Reya joining Anna Edwards and Lucy May.
Troy said: “The aim of events like this one is to help support those that wish to get into the industry. There are a few barriers in the way and it has been great hearing success stories of those that have made their way into their chosen careers. The messages have been similar; to persevere, and to create those opportunities for yourself.
“Volunteering and work experience have been discussed as these will help you refine your skills so that you are well placed to take advantage of any opportunities that come your way. The success of these events mean that we will continue to carry these on around the country and continue to empower under-represented groups.”