Alena Moulton: Widen player access to address black coaching gap in women's football

"We need more people to take that leap... challenge stereotypes and the perceptions that people have, and say 'this is what we're capable of'," says Stoke City Women head coach

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Stoke City Women head coach Alena Moulton says clubs need to do more to be representative of the communities they serve

Alena Moulton, head coach of Stoke City Women, believes the key to increasing the number of black coaches in the women's game lies in first widening access for black female players.

Moulton, who was previously part of the FA's BAME Mentee scheme, argues that while stereotypes are changing, more work is required to continue breaking down barriers for would-be coaches.

The 29-year-old has told Sky Sports that until the issue of black players not making it through to the elite level is redressed, it will remain difficult to see others follow her path into management.

"It's much better now but we need more people to take that leap and go through the door and challenge stereotypes, challenge the perceptions that people have, and say 'this is what we are capable of'," said Moulton, who took over as Stoke head coach this month.

Stoke City Women appointed Moulton as head coach this month
Image: Stoke City Women appointed Moulton as head coach this month

"There is an issue, if you are looking across the elite game, that there isn't that many [black players] across the youth system in elite establishments, and there isn't that many represented in the coaching aspect as well.

"Until we get more playing, we are not going to see more getting involved in the coaching aspect.

"We need to see more that move on into the elite game and see it as an option.

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"Then those girls need to move on into positions of coaching so then when they do go into these clubs, they say 'well, there is someone that looks like me'. It is possible."

A deep and impactful conversation is ongoing about ways in which football has neglected or underrepresented those from black, ethnic minority and other diverse backgrounds.

Just last week, Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA's director of women's football, labelled the organisation's lack of black representation as "shocking".

Focus on worrying statistics, like that which shows that only five managers in England's top four leagues are non-white or from diverse backgrounds, have also come under renewed scrutiny.

Southend United manager Sol Campbell
Image: Sol Campbell's departure from Southend means there are now only five BAME managers in the top 92 men's clubs in England

However, direct comparisons between the numbers of black male players progressing to coaching roles, and those in the women's game who do the same, are difficult to make, according to Moulton.

The factors that prevent some from progressing in the women's game are multi-faceted and she also adds they disproportionately impact those from lower socio-economic backgrounds too.

"It is completely different [to the men's game] and the issue is that people see it as the same thing," said Moulton.

"A lot of the time, I get comments of, 'well, you're black'. They are judging that based off the experience of a black male which is different to being a black female.

Raheem Sterling has spoken about how the anti-racism movement can change football and society
Image: Raheem Sterling is among those to have spoken about how the anti-racism movement can change football and society

"Are we really reaching those communities, or is women's football elitist? If you look at our structure in terms of the female academies that are called RTCs, they often aren't reflective of their communities because they aren't based in the areas that are in the cities that everybody can access regardless of money.

"If you need to travel to another club at the weekend, you need to have financial backing, so that automatically excludes a certain amount of people - that could be ethnic minorities, or it could be those that have a low income. For me, the clubs aren't representative of the communities and their cities.

"There are different challenges and barriers and we have really got to ask ourselves the question, 'how do we do that, how do we become more representative?'"

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