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Shelley Kerr believes talent identification is key to growth in women's football

Image: Shelley Kerr: Now manages men's side Stirling University

Former Arsenal Ladies manager Shelley Kerr believes clearer coaching pathways for ex-players will ultimately result in more females managing at the sharp end of the women’s game.

When Kerr ended her 16-month tenure as Arsenal boss after FA Women’s Cup glory last year, the top-flight of women’s football was left with just one female manager in Chelsea’s Emma Hayes.

Image: Emma Hayes is the only female manager in FA WSL 1

Hayes remains the only woman in charge of an FA WSL 1 club and Kerr wants more progress to be made to ensure more female bosses come through in the years ahead.

“That did (cross my mind when I left) and it makes me sad but I think there needs to be more done to get females ready for management,” Kerr told Sky Sports.

“We need to do more to recruit, mentor and identify talent and we need to do that early in terms of identifying former players. For me, it’s sad there are not more females there but equally, females need to be ready to step in to these positions.

For me, it’s sad there are not more females there but equally, females need to be ready to step in to these positions.
Shelley Kerr

“When I first went to Arsenal I was keen to mentor experienced players in order to promote succession planning. I think that’s a good model but it’s equally important to identify those with potential and work with them while they are still playing to get them ready for life after football because it’s a short career.

Image: Ex-Arsenal captain Jayne Ludlow now manages Wales

“Rachel Yankey and Kelly Smith have been working towards their UEFA B licences, former Arsenal captain Jayne Ludlow has an opportunity now with the national team and I think Casey Stoney will go on to be a fantastic coach but she's still playing, and playing to a really high level.

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Image: Casey Stoney: Will be a 'fantastic' coach in the future

“It’s about putting that framework in place and it’s also about retaining those females in the game. I know in Scotland for example, there have been a few females that have been through the coaching pathway and have now gone to America. And even myself, I’m now involved in the men’s game.”

Kerr won the Continental Cup and two FA Cups with Arsenal before leaving to take charge of men’s side Stirling University in the Scottish Lowland League.

Image: Shelley Kerr won the FA Women's Cup in 2014

She remains the only female in charge of a professional men’s team and is thrilled she seized the opportunity to fulfil one of her long-term ambitions.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” she said.

“I have to say first and foremost the university were very forward thinking in my appointment but I think I have also been well received by the teams and opponents as well as the players here at Stirling University

“I’ve had lots of nice messages from aspiring females who are trying to potentially go into the men’s game as well as coaching in general and that’s been quite overwhelming.

“As much as everybody else is talking about it I just see it as a chance to use my attributes and experience as a football coach in the men’s game, which is where my aspirations have been for a long time.”

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