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Mandy’s ‘enjoyable’ coaching journey ... and her message for aspiring female coaches

Stockport Metro coach Mandy Bell shares her ‘enjoyable’ journey of furthering her coaching knowledge and experience in England – and has a simple message for all aspiring female coaches.

In 2016, I jumped at the chance to move from Canada with a goal of furthering my knowledge and experience by accepting the role as head coach at the City of Derby Swimming Club.

After three years of working to build the programme at Derby, and squeezing every ounce of success possible with the resources available to us, I was offered the position as head coach at Stockport Metro.

My first ten months at Stockport has been no less than an adventure due to our current situation.

However, despite having to navigate an ever-changing environment, my time here has been incredibly enjoyable.

Stockport has a long history of building international champions and being a top performing programme in Great Britain.

The foundation of such success was built by my predecessors and is instilled in the mindset of the swimmers and coaches.

The programme surrounds itself with a supportive and positive group of parents, a knowledgeable and hard-working team of staff and committed group of swimmers.

For me, my position as head coach of the club is one that I plan to remain in the UK for and one that I know will constantly provide me with challenge and reward.

Positive impact

This programme values respect, being a team and achieving excellence – and that is what I plan to sustain at Stockport Metro well into the future.

Over the years I have been asked what it is like to work in a male dominated industry; If there are discrepancies in the opportunities presented to me or if I feel at a disadvantage because I am female.

It is an interesting topic to discuss as I believe there is a multifaceted reason as to why the profession predominantly sees male coaches progress into a full-time capacity.

However, when looking at my own experience in the role, I have always felt fortunate for the opportunities that have come my way.

I have always been surrounded by supportive coaches and mentors who are willing to entertain my sometimes endless questions and interest in learning.

One key positive impact on me was the funding available in Canada for female coaches.

Through applying for female specific grants and financial support, I was able to travel both within Canada and abroad for learning experiences.

Meeting and working with a diverse series of coaches and support staff challenged my thinking and helped to shape the programme I run today.

Specific advice

It has not been a perfect ride for me but the challenges I have faced are not dissimilar to what my male counterparts will have experienced.

We’re all presented with hurdles to overcome and largely create our own success through personal choices and risks we’re willing to take.

After exploring the world of coaching in Canada and the UK, what I have been able to discern is that most people are simply interested in what we can offer based on our capability in the role rather than our gender.

Whether male or female, coaches can present a multitude of behaviours and leadership styles that meet the needs of creating a cohesive and successful team.

Both Canada and the UK focus on the ability of the person, while also recognising that female coaches are in less abundance than males.

Thus, specific resources are in place within both countries to ensure female coaches have the capacity to further their careers if they choose to do so.

Female coaches are quite lucky to have access to education and finances that male coaches are not privy to.

If I could offer any piece of advice to young female coaches it would be to pursue all the finances and resources available and trust that success is created through our capability rather than our gender.

I wouldn’t be where I am at today if I believed that being female meant I wouldn’t be good enough.