Football Inspiration with Lauren Robson
"I took that leap of faith, and it was a case of me taking every training session and game"
Lauren Robson is a Level One FA qualified coach at Develop Her Game, specialist football coaching for girls with a vision is to inspire girls to want to play football by creating a fun, engaging, inclusive and safe environment.
Lauren’s coaching journey began in unplanned circumstances. She originally trained to be a football referee but, at the age of 16, she was asked, out of the blue, to coach the Blyth Town FC under 11 girls – who were in need of a coach.
Lauren was unsure of the challenge at first, but stepped up, coached the side and has never looked back on the decision. She is still coaching the same team six years later and has also coached the senior women’s team and the men’s reserve team at Blyth in the past few years.
AW: Can you tell us a little bit about your coaching journey so far, you play for Durham Women, but can you tell us more about the coaching side?
I’ve coached since I was 14 or 15 but more in a school environment, coaching alongside a teacher in an after school club environment. But as soon as I got to the refereeing age, I thought I’d give it a go for a bit of pocket money and I was more interested in refereeing at the time. But after about two years I had lost my interest in it and I’d never considered coaching. I got into coaching in purely by chance, there was a team of U11 girls at the time and the club needed to find a coach in the next week or two or they’re not going to have a team. I took that leap of faith, and it was a case of me taking every training session and game. I was just putting my knowledge of the game and I had quite a lot as I’ve played since the age of four. It could have gone either way where I was in one mindset where I want to do it or another where I thought, I’ve never thought of this before so why would I do it. From there, I’ve helped with a few of the teams at that club, through to coaching the ladies team, the men’s team, the boys, so I’ve had experience coaching a few of them over the past 5-6 years.
AW: It’s a bit of a steep learning curve, taking a risk to start coaching with little experience at 16. How did you find it at the time?
I was told it was a bit of a commitment. When I went into the girl’s team, I found it a lot harder than I thought, I thought I’d turn up and these kids will just want to play but it wasn’t. It wasn’t just coaching football, it was managing how to look after these girls and I had to adapt. There’s a lot of things you’ve got to consider, it’s not just the football side of it. It was a couple of months before I started doing my level 1 but I learnt a lot from the experience, not just from a coaching way, in terms of dealing with the parents and how to develop the players as people.
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AW: Did you ever think you would stick with it as much as you have? Or did you think to just keep going with the team and see how it goes?
I didn’t think I’d be in the position I’m in now, I didn’t think that’s what I wanted to do and once I got into it I grew a love for it, I wanted to learn more and teach different kids but I didn’t think I would be in this position now from that one decision.
AW: It’s an unplanned route to where you are now, but what do you enjoy most about coaching now?
When I was at school I wanted to be a P.E teacher and what I enjoy is teaching kids what I know. But I’d never considered coaching and when I was thrown into the deep end, what i enjoyed about it was the rewards you get from it, from the players learning the smallest little skills and you’re getting to know them as well and you start to realise the social aspects and the mental aspects and then it’s a case of improving the players. It’s those rewards when they gain a bit of confidence or when they managed to do something they never thought they’d be able to do. I enjoy coaching the kids that want to learn, but aren’t necessarily capable at the time and they want to give everything. It’s those little rewards from improving week in week out.
AW: With the players at Developing her Game, do the girls talk about the WSL and the Lionesses more compared to when you started coaching?
Yeah, all the time. They come into the training sessions and they’ll be like, did you see that person’s goal last night? There’s been a big change, I remember when I was coaching the under 11s, I asked them how many want to go and play for England and there weren’t as many as I thought there would be. But when I ask that question now there’s a lot more girls that want to, nearly all of them. One big thing I have picked up on is the social aspect of it, girls tend to respond easier to me as a female coach than they do with a male coach because they can relate to the journey I’ve been on. I’ve never played for an academy or anything like that. I think they quite like that aspect of it because a lot of them are in the grassroots game and not in the RTCs or academies and they like the fact they can see how I’ve gone through it, through grassroots and, with the right amount of coaching, I’ve been able to go into the women’s game, and they quite like the fact they can use me as a role model. It’s not all about being in the academies and RTCs.
"But when I ask that question now there’s a lot more girls that want to, nearly all of them"
"At Develop Her Game, we have two groups, one that’s all about having fun and participation"
AW: What do you enjoy most about playing yourself?
I’ve always had a passion for football. What I enjoy most about it is the competitiveness and being able to improve day in day out. For me, it’s not just about getting together with friends, it’s very much about competitiveness and to improve and progress as high as I possibly can.
AW: If there’s a girl wanting to get involved with football but who may be put off from getting involved or giving it a try, what advice would you give to them?
What I would say to those players and kids would be, the environment at school can be the environment out of school, so if players are enjoying the game in school, it’s not always about competitiveness. For example, at Develop Her Game, we have two groups, one that’s all about having fun and participation and another group of the same age, which is purely about progressing as much as they possibly can. There’s always those players that aren’t as confident who can turn up and play with friends with no pressure on them. There’s plenty of girls playing football now compared to boys. If girl’s enjoy football, there’s no reason not to do it.
AW: Where do you see your coaching career heading in the future?
I want to progress as much as I can and it’s a passion I’ve grown since I made that decision five or six years ago. I’m on my level one now but I want to do my level 2. I want to progress as high as I can. My ultimate goal is to coach as many girls who want to be coached and to push them as high as I possibly can to play for WSL clubs or England. I want to coach girls the best I can and give them my knowledge so they can go even further.
AW: How would you like to see women’s football progress in the next few years, decade, 20 years or so?
It’s massively progressed already over the last 10 years and I’d like to see it do that again over the next 10 years. I want it to continue to grow and I want more girls involved with football who want to be involved and that have a passion and they can feel like they can just turn up to a session who haven’t got someone saying, it’s a boys game, or, you shouldn’t be doing that you should be doing something else instead. Even seeing it grow from seeing those that are England players now, seeing them at a different level due to the level of coaching they’re getting.