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Love Of The Game with Olivia Bruce

Olivia Bruce started playing football when she was 5 years old and now coaches young girls at Develop Her Game, a specialist football coaching enterprise. She speaks with Alex Waite about how she enjoys both playing and coaching the game to the next generation of players.

"I'm starting to enjoy coaching more than I'm playing"

AW: Can you tell me a little bit about your coaching journey so far and how you got involved with Develop Her Game?

Olivia: I had started coaching football at the age of 17 at my local grassroots club which is North Shields Juniors. I was at the club for several years as a player and wanted to give something back to the club where I had played from a young age. I started with an under 10 girls team and have progressed my coaching journey with the players’ journey at the same time. Now we are an under 14 girls team so it’s nice to see them progress as players with me as their coach. I’ve been coaching now for over five years and it’s a nice environment. Then last year Courtney got in touch asking if I wanted to help out with the holiday camps at Develop Her Game and I joined them as a coach.

AW: Along with coaching football, you also play for Blyth Town Ladies Football Club. What do you enjoy most about playing?

Olivia: I’ve been playing football since I was five so that’s as long as I can remember. This is my first season at Blyth Town ladies, and what I enjoy most is just being out in the field playing the game. You play for 90 minutes and for that period don’t think about anything else. When you go on the field you just step in your own little bubble and then after those 90 minutes you go back into the real world. I also love the social side of the game.

AW: What do you enjoy most about coaching football?

Olivia: I’m starting to enjoy coaching more than I’m playing specially with my grassroots team at North Shields, it’s their journey. I’ve seen them develop as players, but also as people and it’s been great to be a part of that and have an impact on their lives. In the 1-2-1s as you coach a player to do something and you can see the penny dropping when they do it, that gives you a little sign of relief and you are proud of that.

"I’ve seen them develop as players, but also as people and it's been great to be a part of that and have an impact on their lives."

"..she could also end up falling in love with the game and that could change her life.."

AW: Yeah that’s when you see all the hard work that they and you have put into it starts paying off. This links into the next question, what other things that you enjoy seeing when you are coaching and what are the common things with kids?

Olivia: In the 1-2-1s all kids, specially the younger ones, love shooting; they love kicking the ball in the back of the net. So with every session that I do, I incorporate a net at the end so they have a chance to do that. I enjoy seeing them with a smile on their faces when I coach them. What my team enjoys most is the social side of it, they’re from different schools around the area and have created their friendship group, almost like friends for life.

AW: Women’s football has become more popular over the years, what would you like to see in the women’s game improving in the next decade or so?

Olivia: Yes women’s game has improved and the BBC is also helping quite a lot by showing games on national TV which is great. Going ahead we have to consider women’s football on the same level as men’s football and not treat them differently. With the lockdown quite a few of the men’s teams are still playing while most of the women’s league games have been cancelled. So it’s got to start from the FA treating games for both genders at an equal footing.

AW: If a young girl wants to get involved with football, what kind of advice would you give her?

Olivia: I’d ask her to go ahead and give it a try and if she doesn’t like it she can say that she’s tried it, but she could also end up falling in love with the game and that could change her life as she starts that journey from a young age.

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