Sadly football, as in life, is rife with prejudice and people are often judged not on their abilities but rather on how they look or who they are. It is why there was such a lack of diversity among players up to thirty years back and it explains why there is such a lack of diversity among coaches these days.
It will take time for that to change and it will take people slowly chipping away at the misconceptions and that is what Jazz Hervin, a young female coach, is doing.
Blueprint for Football: What attracted you to coaching? How did you get started?
Jazz Hervin: I played football from the age of seven and developed a real passion for the game. As I continued to play, I started to enjoy it less and less because I felt I wasn't getting any better and didn't have the right support to help me improve, but they just wanted to tell me “you’re just not good enough”.
I always wanted to play for England, but when that started to look unlikely, I looked at different roles within football. I wanted to get to the top of my game in whatever I did in football. I took an interest in coaching because I thought to myself “well, if I can’t play for England, maybe I can help others that want to do this instead.”
So I started by joining a local a local grassroots club and spent my first year coaching by picking up cones after the other coach and doing my Level 1 & Youth Award Module 1.
BfF: Have you had any mentors in your career?
JH: I’ve never had anyone that I call ‘my mentor’, but many people of all different levels of the game that support me in a mentor type way.
Their support is invaluable ; from advice on the phone to opportunities I will never forget and that are beyond what I believed I’d be doing at 20 years old!
BfF: What is the most important attribute that you look for in players?
JH: Someone that values being a good person before a good player!
BfF: And, what do you consider to be the most important attribute in a coach?
JH: The ability to build long lasting relationships with all types of people.
BfF: You've got a number of roles at the moment; could you describe what you do in each one?
JH: At the FA I am the National Game Youth Council Head of Admin where I support the Chairperson with minutes of meetings and project delivery as part of the Senior Management Team.
Within the ISFA England Women U18 Squad we hold 3 Training camps per 6 months and have international friendlies against Wales, Scotland and Australia.
At Yeovil Town Ladies I am Development Team Coach and I hold training twice a week with games played on a Sunday afternoon. The club competes in the FA Women Super League Development League.
BfF: Two years ago you won the Young Volunteer of the Year by the Devon FA. What did that award mean for you?
JH: I won the Devon County FA and the South West Regional Young Volunteer Award two years running (2012 and 2013). Receiving these 4 awards in the space of 2 years was, and still is a huge shock! I was in my 2nd and 3rd year of coaching when I received them and to me all I was doing was the best I can for my own development as well as others. I didn't expect anything else or see the awards coming!
BfF: What have been, so far, the biggest achievements in your career? And what makes them so special?
JH: When I was selected as the one female young volunteer in Devon to attend The FA National Leadership Camp in Hereford for 5 days in 2012 was a big moment. This has been one of the best weeks I’ve ever had as I learnt so much from great leaders and tutors, but also I've made so many life-long friends from just that one week!
To be appointed as Head Coach of the ISFA England Women U18 Squad was also huge. This meant that I was the coach of a national team at the age of 18 and there were only 9 months difference between myself and some of my players.
My most recent big achievement has to be my appointment as coach of Yeovil Town Ladies Development Team. I believe this makes me the youngest coach in FA WSL history. I never thought I’d be coaching within this league, with players of such a high level, when I have only just turned 20 years old.
BfF: Have you ever come across people who underestimate or undervalue you abilities as a coach because you are a woman? Do you feel that you have to work harder to win people's respect?
JH: Yes I have come across people like this. I don't feel like I have to work harder to win their respect, because with them judging me as a woman, they're not looking at my ability. All I think is that they aren't the right sort of people I want to work or be associated with!
BfF: Is there anything different that a woman brings to the job of coaching than a man?
JH: For me, this question is very difficult to answer as it really does depend on the age of players, ability level, coaching environment/set up, gender of players.
But there are so many different personality types, that depending on the individual, they could do the same jobs as men.
BfF: From the outside looking in there seems to be a lack of women in coaching, especially the higher you go even in the women's game. First of all, do you think that is a correct statement and, if so, why do you think that is the case? And what do you think should be done to improve matters?
JH: I do agree with the statement. I believe there are many reasons for a lack of women at the top levels of coaching, such as the limited number of jobs at the top level of the game for women in coaching, the fact that time becomes a struggle due to top level jobs for women don't pay well and therefore they need to have a full-time job, as well as the coaching role and managing parenting and starting a family is tricky whilst having a full-time, top level coaching career.
I believe the FA have taken positive steps forward to support women at the top of the game as well as women aspiring to get there; through mentoring programmes, support programmes and more job opportunities at the top for women, now that the women’s game is rapidly growing.
BfF: What do you want to achieve in the future to feel fulfilled with your career?
JH: My ultimate goal is to become an England coach, to have the opportunity to represent my country and support the best players in our country.
Support this site by purchasing Blueprint According To… Volume 1 and Volume 2, the e-books issues by Blueprint for Football where a host of coaches talk about their ideas and beliefs.