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Giving Discrimination the Red Card

I've always had a passion and a love for football since as long as I can remember. It first started with my trips to the Boleyn ground to follow West Ham Utd which I have done so from a young age, but my journey into football as a player began when I was 18 years of age and when I moved to Winchester. I joined Winchester City FC purely for social reasons, as I had just moved in to the area and wanted to meet new people – football is a great tool and vehicle for that. I was able to make plenty of friends and my confidence grew as a result.

As the years progressed, I developed a keen interest in coaching, looking upon my mentors and peers; it was this drive of wanting to support others achieve their potential that influenced me to become a Coach; a role whereby I could support players and coaches develop further and know inside that I played a part in their journey. The coaching landscape provided me with the opportunity to take on a diverse number of roles and responsibilities and I aspired and challenged myself to keep pushing the bar and my potential. Today, I am an FA Tutor for Level 1 and Level 2 coaching courses, an FA lead mentor, FA female coach mentor, FA grassroots club mentor, Lead Foundation Phase Coach at Southampton FC Girls RTC, the list goes on. I have created my own personal coaching legacy and I am proud to look upon these achievements and hope that other women will make their mark in the game as well in whatever capacity they choose – as a player, coach, referee, volunteer or even make it their career someday like many other women have done so at Hampshire FA and The FA.

Growing up and progressing through the tiers, I have been discriminated against a few times.

Looking back now though this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as those knocks only pushed me and heightened my desire to prove them wrong.

In fact, I would go as far as saying that if it wasn’t for those knocks, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about my own personal journey and accomplishments hoping to inspire the next person. Today, I really do feel as though the barriers have dropped massively over the last few years and we have seen a real shift, with an influx of women making inroads into what was previously a male-dominated environment. You do still come up against some individuals with sadly the motive to put others down but this could be the case in any environment and with anyone – those who discriminate against me are likely to have the motive to do so against anyone else, regardless of gender. I've just recently applied for my A license, along with hundreds of other applicants, unfortunately I wasn't successful, however this will just encourage me to apply again in the next open application process. I won’t see this as a barrier but rather as another opportunity, to take time to review and re-apply. Time is never a barrier so I will keep on going as I’ve set out.

My goal now is to continue to develop in all my roles and continue to develop coaches and players. I have been influenced by some amazing people in the past and today I am fortunate to say that I too influence other coaches, staff and players I've worked with throughout my career. I see testimonials pouring into the Hampshire FA office on the impact that one of my sessions has had and my delivery. This fills me with an astounding pride and I don’t take these compliments or comments for granted as I was once standing in their shoes as a Learner looking up to someone else who once inspired me. We are now in a place where football is far more accepting and welcoming of female coaches and players. It helps having the success of our fantastic England women's team and the media coverage by BBC and BT sport for the WSL coverage along with the "This Girl Can" campaign, FA Wildcat centres, FA female Coach mentoring programme, they are all paving the way and shining the light on female opportunities in the game.

My advice to women coming into the game or who are thinking about coming into the game is to work hard, stay positive, be yourself and never give up on your goals. I’d like to think that I can be that example having lived by that very attitude and are here now to tell the tale #WomenWhoDo

About the Author

Lisa Savage is an FA Affiliate Tutor and FA Club/Coach Mentor (Grassroots). She is contactable via email:

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