Whoever said football was a man’s game, let me introduce you to Becca Todd. As an international football coach, she’s worked and played with teams throughout the world from Africa to South America. Last summer, she helped manage the Colombian Women’s National Football Team during the Olympics. She also established her own successful coaching scheme, Futbolistas Girls’ Football Coaching, and still she finds time to have a kick around with the guys and girls. If there’s anybody who understands what the beautiful game is all about, it’s Becca.
We spoke to the self-confessed Reading fan about her worldwide experiences of football, and why she thinks girls should never feel afraid to get involved. Currently coaching in Cartagena, as part of the World Coach Colombia foundation, its no surprise she had a lot to say!
What’s the football culture like over in Colombia? Are girls welcome to join in with the guys?
Everyone goes crazy when the national team play, but there are still a lot more boys playing and supporting football than girls. But we recently had a tournament that was predominantly girls with a couple of boys in each team. The boys were completely happy to play with the girls, and some of the girls even train with boys teams now.
What’s your typical day like in Colombia?
Good question! There’s not really a typical day out here. We’re always up really early because it get’s so hot during the day that we have to train first thing. So I have a coaching session in the morning, then another with a different team in the afternoon. There are often matches to be played, and if we have tournaments then we have extra training sessions too. In the evenings, sometimes I play beach football or meet up and go out with friends- it’s a very fun way of life!
Who do you coach?
At World Coach Colombia, we work in the poorer regions of Colombia delivering coaching sessions to players, and helping to support the local coaches. At the moment, I coach boys and girls aged 8 to seventeen. Here, even the youngest players train with the older players in a big group, which is very different to the UK! I’m also coaching a women’s team from an island nearby, who are made up of single mums. I get to play for them too.
How did you become involved with World Coach Colombia?
During the Olympics, I worked as the Team Liaison Officer for the Colombian women’s team. I was with them every step of the way, helping with training, match days and getting to know the players. One of the team director’s invited me to come to volunteer for the foundation, as he knew it was the kind of work I wanted to do- I thought it sounded an incredible opportunity, and now here I am writing to you in sunny Colombia!!
How did you first become involved with football?
I started playing football at school with the boys when I was 7. I played for the boy’s team, went to coaching courses and from there progressed to playing for a women’s team when I was 12 (there weren’t any girls teams around then). Since then I played at Reading FC, and at Exeter for my University team. Football has taken me to so many places and I’ve met so many great people through it. I really hope I can help other girls to get involved, have fun and progress in football – it’s well worth it.
Has there ever been a time when you feel like you couldn’t get involved with football – playing or watching it?
I’m very lucky to know nice guys who’ve always let me join in. I’ve definitely learnt a lot from playing football with guy’s teams, as it’s a lot more physically challenging. Here in Colombia, I still train and play with the men’s teams, and its great fun! However, I do know lots of girls who haven’t had the same luck. This is something that we aim to tackle in Futbolistas Football Coaching, by giving girls the opportunity to play and learn in a supportive, all-girls environment.
Tell us some more about that.
At Futbolistas, we coach girls’ football and then donate 25% of our takings to a charity in Ghana called KickStart Ghana. I have volunteered with KickStart Ghana for the past 3 summers and I can’t recommend them highly enough. The work they do coaching local teams and helping in the orphanages is incredible.
What would your advice be for a girl who wants to get involved with football, be it playing or watching it, but feels intimated by the ‘man-centred’ culture of the game?
There are loads of opportunities out there to get involved, so my best advice would be to find a club or coaching sessions where you can meet other girls with a similar passion. If there’s anything I can do personally to help you, feel free to get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org. Try not to worry about a “man-centred” culture or any prejudices, because the most important thing is that you can enjoy your football and have fun!
Join Kickstart Ghana on twitter
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