It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World




Women coaches in sports at a professional level, are few and far between. Women are fighting to land and hold on to coaching positions in women’s sports, and needless to say, so few have been allowed into the world of men’s sports, that they can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

WNBA player Becky Hammon

WNBA player Becky Hammon

In a landmark decision by the San Antonio Spurs, WNBA player Becky Hammon was hired as the first full time female assistant coach. The team even created an extra coaching position to accommodate Ms. Hammon. While the decision is a huge one for the largest basketball association in the world (NBA), it is a massive win for women coaches worldwide.

In May, Helena Costa was appointed head coach for top tier French league team Clermont Foot. Her appointment made her the first woman to coach a top or second division team in Europe’s five major leagues, apart from making her the first woman to coach a major league team in France. Her move to back out however, was not a first. Effectively, there has never been full time female coach in football at the league level, let alone international.

The only woman to reach dizzying heights in the footballing community is Karren Brady. While she is not a coach per se, the ‘first lady of football’ has demolished ceilings of rock in rising to the position of MD of Birmingham City FC, while other women are still grappling with glass ceilings, in this male dominated, testosterone fuelled world of sports.

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Tennis had its share of astonishment this year, with British favourite Andy Murray’s choice of coach – former Tennis player, Amelie Mauresmo – ahead of the Wimbledon Championships. It appears that the world does not look kindly upon appointment of female coaches, when they are not family, which is the case with players Mikhail Kukushkin and Denis Istomin. Murray himself has been coached by mother Judy Murray in the past.  The Tweetosphere was abuzz with posts such as “What was he thinking hiring a woman!” and “There goes any hope of winning another major title.” At the same time, there were those who applauded the move. Mauresmo herself coached fellow French player Michael Llodra for a brief period in 2010.

Over the past year, there have been landmark breakthroughs for women, in football, basketball and tennis at the very top.  These isolated incidents recognising sporting IQ over sexist stereotypes is the way to creating a more inclusive sporting world. Tapping the potential of this hitherto unacknowledged community within the sporting world can prove to be a game-changer.

Will there be people still saying, “What were they thinking hiring a woman?” Most probably. But derision will get sucked out of the sporting community bit by bit, thawing the glass ceiling and allowing for careers for women.

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