Sam Milne, Club Development Officer for Girls/ Women's Football, recently caught up with former player Donna Shaw now of Jeanfield Saints. Donna recently took up the voluntary position of managing the coaching programme at the club which will support the technical development of all the players.

Can you give us a bit about your background in Girls / Womens Football?
My playing career included spells with Dundee United, Forfar Farmington, St Johnstone, Newburgh and Glasgow City. In this time I won the Umbro Cup and Scottish Premier League with Glasgow City and I was also capped for Scotland at Under 20’s level. I have an H.N.D in Sports Coaching with Sports Development and this year will be going for my Level Four Coaching Badges for children’s and youth. I’ve coached in schools for Tayside Police, Dundee Council, Dundee FC, Perth Area Squad and I am now head coach at Jeanfield Girls FC and Perth Grammar School.

How did you get involved in playing?

I never did like doing handstands at school so I played football with the boys from a very young age. There was a group of us that would meet up and go down to the north inch at every opportunity for a kick about I would have been 11 at the time.  One day there was a girls team training (Dundee United) they asked me if I wanted to join in and that was it. 

How did you get involved in coaching?
Being involved in sport was what I have always wanted to do but particularly football.  I’m always looked to improve myself and as a young player I thought that if I learned how to coach football I would improve as a player too.  When leaving school I went to Dundee College and ended up with a H.N.D in Sports Coaching with Sports Development specific to football.  I started coaching at Dundee FC and learned a lot from the coaches there.

Who were your role models that got you involved in coaching and playing?
Josie Cameron was my role model when I started playing for Dundee United.  She was an amazing player, an inspiration on the park and off of it too.  She advised me to get into coaching. 

What made you decide to coach at Jeanfield?
The opportunity arose when the U15s girls found themselves without a management team just before the 2010 season started. I knew a lot of the girls through coaching them with the Perth Area Squad.  The new manager Steve Grossie only agreed to take the team at short notice on the proviso that I took the coaching! It turned out to be just the challenge I needed. I had been missing coaching and it is always difficult to get back. From the very first session I was blown away by the ability and commitment of the girls, and how receptive they were to taking on new ideas. It just reminded me how fulfilling the role can be and what a great club Jeanfield was. Due to this player commitment and the need for a more structured coaching set up at the girls club I decided I was back for good!

What is the programme you will be delivering at Jeanfield?

The club is full of brilliant people, from supportive parents to very good managers and coaches, as well as the overall Community Club committee.  However we felt that the girls club would benefit from there being a consistent coaching philosophy throughout all the age groups. You could say it’s the old Ajax model coming to Perth! But we want the girls being taught the same good habits at all levels.
We have a very talented older group of players who are serving the 17s and Ladies teams. Although they are slightly older we don’t want to forget about them and I’ve been working with Steve Grossi and have been adding a bit of structured coaching that has taken their undoubted skills and abilities and harnessed them into a very talented unit. So lots of the concentration with these girls is on game knowledge and organisation, as well as encouraging good decision-making.

At the other end of the scale I am working very closely with the younger 11s-13s levels. I have started a plan that will see us offer the younger girls at this level a structured coaching provision that will concentrate in developing their skills and self-belief.  We want the girls to get as much time with the ball at their feet. The 11s are a great bunch and are playing some fantastic football, with smiles on their faces.
So you could say that I’m bringing a quality and consistency to the coaching set up rather than something revolutionary!

Jeanfield have a strong vision for developing their players technically over the coming years, how do you believe your experience in the game will help this?
Jeanfield have indeed produced a tremendous number of Internationalists recently and we want this to continue, as well as encouraging girls of EVERY ability to come and develop their football. I hope that what I can do is back-up the coaching sessions by inspiring the girls to achieve their maximum potential as I did. I know what it takes to play for Scotland and I know what it takes to win Championships and Leagues. The coaching plans we have been working to are already giving them the required technical help, but I hope my experience of the dedication that is required will add a bit of an edge and keep Jeanfield producing players of individual skill and great commitment.

It’s a good time to be at Jeanfield. The 17s and Ladies are competing well and Bill McDade has a great 15s squad who are developing nicely. We also think that our 11s and 13s have a great chance of developing into excellent teams with skill and character.

Anyone interested in coming to any of the Jeanfield Swifts Girls training sessions should contact Chairman David Houston 07971 684154 or Vice Chairman Steve Grossi 07771 643125