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Where are all the female coaches? – 18.06.2014

 Last week, the IFF Secretary General, John Liljelund, and IFF Competition Coordinator, Sarah Mitchell, both attended the 6th International Working Group Conference on Women & Sport, with the main theme of the event being Lead the Change. Be the Change’. Sessions focussed on health, sport policy, participation, leadership and coaching, and sport without fear. The Conference was addressed by many leading sports academics, former-Olympians, politicians and IOC President Thomas Bach.

The IFF presented information on the GoGirls! Floorball programme that was launched in December 2013, while Mervi Kilpikoski, from the Finnish Floorball Federation made a presentation discussing the different methods of activation they are implementing on their pathway towards hosting the Women’s WFC in 2015, including their very successful ‘Tyttösäbä on Timanttia’ programme. Disappointingly, there were no representatives from any other Floorball Federations in attendance.

The IFF signed the Brighton Declaration on Women and Sport in July 2011 and since then has worked hard to increase the participation of women in Floorball at all levels. Some of the biggest results of this work have been:

  • Increase in the number of female referees at international level
  • Increase in the number of licensed female players
  • Increase from one to four women on the IFF Central Board
  • Launch of the IFF GoGirls! Floorball programme

However, there is still work to be done by both the IFF and the Member Associations. Women are still under-represented within the IFF committees and in key leadership positions in the National Associations. Only six of the IFF Members have a woman as either the President (KOR, NOR, SLO) or Secretary General (AUT, IRL, SLO, UKR). Slovenia is the only member to have women in both of these positions.

Where are all the female coaches?

The lack of female coaches at an elite level was a key discussion point during the IWG Conference. While at the 2012 London Olympics there may have been a nearly 50-50 split on male and female participants, of over 3000 accredited coaches only 11% were women. Floorball suffers a similar problem with a very low number of coaching positions on national teams held by women.  While seeing women as part of the coaching staff on any of the men’s national teams is extremely rare, it is equally difficult to find them coaching the women’s teams. At the recent Women’s WFC in December 2013, only one (Czech Republic), out of 16 participating teams, had a female head coach, and only three other countries had female assistant coaches.

There were more positive signs towards the future during the Women’s U19 WFC in Poland in May, when just over half the teams had at least one female coach, however, it was only the World Champions, Sweden, who had a female Head Coach, Åsa Karlsson (pictured left).

This lack of female coaches at an elite level is an area that will be addressed by the IFF, especially in the lead-up to the Women´s WFC  in 2015. Among the recommendations to be considered are coaching seminars for women only and guidelines for National Associations on different policies they can adopt to encourage and retain female coaches

During the conference the IFF participated in workshops on several different topics and was able to introduce Floorball to several new organisations and regions. If you would like more information on the IWG, the conference and it´s ongoing work, visit http://www.iwg-gti.org/. You can also follow them on IWG Facebook or IWG Twitter.


PHOTO: Daniel Karlsson (www.innebandy.se)