Table Tennis England is launching the SHEcoaches initiative – with backing from SportsAid – to produce and empower the next generation of female talent and performance coaches.

SHEcoaches looks to address the shortage of female coaches operating in the talent and performance part of the pathway – at present, 19% of Licenced coaches are female, and almost 85% of those are Level 1 Session or Level 2 Lead Coaches but, there are only two Level 4 Elite Coaches currently working in England and aligns with the Level the Table strategy, published in September 2022. In creating the project, we have also taken note of insight gathered through an open survey to female coaches across England.

The key aims are:

  • To produce the next generation of female coaches at talent and national level and spot female coaches with potential, supporting them to develop the necessary skills to coach at a high-performance level
  • To build a community of practice for female coaches supporting the performance pathway
  • To provide increased opportunities for female coaches from diverse backgrounds
  • To provide female role models for talented female players
  • To build a pool of female coach mentors
  • To provide pathway exit opportunities for female players to progress into coaching

In addition, SHEcoaches aims to provide talent identification opportunities for girls, supported by an all-female coaching team – a key finding of the survey is that talented female players leave the sport because of lack of female coaches.

To achieve these aims, SHEcoaches will work to build female coach self-awareness and confidence, upskill coaches to better understand the female technical game, and educate coaches on the demands, challenges, and possible journey of talented female players.

SportsAid has invested £20,000 through its Backing The Best initiative to fully fund SHEcoaches for two years.

The first year will see a cohort of 10 coaches exposed to talent and performance coaching through immersive England and GB camp experiences, a series of online education and reflection sessions, plus experience of supporting a girls’ talent identification day.

Year 2 will see the cohort given wider mentoring support and a plan to continue to develop their learning and experience. After a selection process, a select number (2-3) of the cohort will be invited to national performance pathway camps on a regular basis and attend two international events with female players.

Emma Vickers, Head of Pathway Development, said: “We sincerely thank SportsAid for recognising the need in our sport and giving us the opportunity to run a programme of this size and calibre for the first time.

“We believe this project has the potential to have a significant lasting impact on our sport. This includes increasing the numbers of female players thriving through the talent pathway, and the development of a cohort that has the right skills and knowledge to mentor future generations of female coaches, inspiring them to pursue coaching at a higher level.”

Applications will open in October, with participants being informed if they have been successful in December. The programme will officially kick off in January 2024. Keep an eye on the website for more information about how to apply.