I AM JODIE WHITFORD-STARK
Meet Chelsea FC fan, Jodie Whitford-Stark, a coach development officer for The FA Women’s High-Performance Centre, St Mary’s University, based in England.
Jodie has had a love for playing football ever since she could remember. She feels very fortunate that the first few coaches she had, had created an environment where she could continue love for the game.
“Would I be where I am if I wasn’t supported and believed in from a young age? I’m not sure”.
Since then, Jodie has always been inspired by other people; people that keep her engaged and fascinated to learn more and inspire her to be more like them. Being inspired – this is what she has taken into her own coaching.
“So, I’m really grateful to the role models I’ve had and I’m always actively seeking to work with more great people”.
Jodie has coached at various levels in football across the male and female game. But, recently her path has taken her into coach development on a full time basis.
“My job is to support coaches who work in Women & Girls Football, who would like to work at the highest levels of the game. I’m so passionate about the development of the game that it’s great to be in a role where I can impact that. On a day-to-day basis, I have to: build relationships with coaches, find out what their talents are and areas to help them develop”.
Jodie also works on creating specific coaching programmes, so that the coaches she works with can achieve their potential. In this role, she is really conscious of the under representation of female coaches, particularly those from Black or Asian backgrounds.
Jodie wants to be an ally and help to change this!
When asked about advice that she would provide to others, she said:
“My biggest advice is to believe in yourself and surround yourself with other people that believe in you and can be a critical friend. That way, when you come across someone who is maybe negative towards you, either directly or indirectly, you have that resilience and support to keep going”.
Coaching, she believes, is such an emotive profession, so you have to have strategies to look after your own welfare because work and hobby blend into one.
“Sometimes, you’re not sure why things haven’t worked out how you wanted to. Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because of my age? Or is it just because I’m wrong?”
Jodie can see the impact of positive action that provides opportunity for women, led by people that really care about having more females involved in the game. Despite this, Jodie reiterated the importance of being good enough for the role and not receiving any tokenistic gestures.
“I still want to be and I am, good enough”.
Jodie’s key learnings and lessons to impart on others are:
“Be committed to be the best that you can be and don’t limit yourself. That comes from coaching as much as possible and learning from them experiences. But also, enjoy reading and researching. Keep yourself thinking ahead of the trend rather than playing catch up. Work in a range of environments and surround yourself with people that you can learn from. Sometimes, be the big fish in a little pond. But, don’t be scared to be the little fish in a big pond either”.
Follow Jodie Whitford-Stark on Twitter / Instagram: @Jodie_ws