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England’s women’s football coach Hope Powell and England and Arsenal captain Faye White have launched a new project to increase the number of female football coaches.

Just one in four coaches in the UK are women, and of these, just 30% have FA coaching qualifications.

Female Coach Development is a three year project aimed at increasing the number of women achieving Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football.

There are five levels of coaching accredited by the FA, with level 5 reserved for coaches working at the highest level of professional league football. Level 2 is designed for coaches working with young players, and will be the minimum qualification required to work in local authority and Football in the Community Schemes and Girls’ Centres of Excellence.

373 people attended the Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football between 2005 and 2007, but only 32 of them – 9% – were women.

Research indicates that girls’ participation in sport is much more likely to be sustained if they are coached by women. By increasing the number of qualified female coaches, the Female Coach Development project will in turn increase participation rates amongst girls.

The Female Coaching Development project is a structured mentoring system that will support intending coaches through the preparatory phase, the training course, the assessment and finally into the paid and voluntary workplace.

The initiative is free to participants and will be based at London Marathon Playing Field (Greenwich), which will also become London’s centre for female coach education.

England coach Hope Powell said “This is a most needed project and the London Playing Fields Foundation should be congratulated for recognising that the drive to get more girls playing the game should be accompanied by a practical approach to increasing the number of female coaches.”

“Coaches and volunteers are at the heart of grassroots sport and without them, many sporting opportunities just wouldn’t exist,” added Thomas Godfrey, Sport England Commercial Director. “This project will contribute toward Sport England’s goal of getting one million people doing more sport by 2012/13.”

Female Coach Development is a three year project funded by The Football Foundation, Jack Petchey Foundation, London Marathon Charitable Trust, Sport England and NIKE.

[cross-posted at Lesbilicious]