The Scottish FA has unveiled its new ’20 Under 20’ programme, which aims to provide support and guidance to the next generation of Scotland’s female coaches.

Launched as the first of a series of UEFA Women’s Under-19s European Championship Legacy projects, the initiative will see the association place 20 female coaches between the ages of 16 and 20 on a one-year coach development course on the main education pathway.

The coaching courses, which will be completely funded by the Scottish FA, range from the 1.1 qualification to the UEFA C Licence, with the aim of enhancing the personal development of each participant ahead of their respective futures in the game.

Participants will also receive guidance on a range of topics associated with coaching, including sports psychology, child protection and leadership.

Donald Gillies, Head of Women’s and Girls Football at the Scottish FA, believes that the programme represents an exciting opportunity in the female game.

“Involving young people in the shaping of programmes, policy and projects is vital to the positive future development of society and — particularly in our case —the women’s game.

“The ’20 Under 20’ initiative will look to be a programme that inspires not only the 20 young women working towards a future career in coaching, but the girls and women that they will work with during the one-year course and beyond.”

Having been actively involved in coaching for the past five years, Niamh Russell is well-placed to testify to the benefits of coaching courses to each participant.

Niamh Russell

“I started my coaching journey at 16 when I first did my 1.1 coaching qualifications and in the space of four years I have continued to progress to the point where I’m now on my UEFA B Licence.

“I have learned so much about the game, especially the tactical side, and about my own style of coaching when actually being on the courses. I think as a young coach it’s important to have role models and mentors who are involved in the game. I would certainly say that, if I didn’t have these people supporting me, then I wouldn’t now be in the coaching positions that I’m in.

“My coaching journey is so rewarding — being able to build relationships with young players to help develop them both on and off the pitch is something that anyone would enjoy. What I find the most rewarding is watching these footballers grow as people not just players. I’m lucky enough to be working on the pitch with young players six days a week as head coach of the under-14s West Regional Performance Programme and in my role as Rangers Women’s Under-19s assistant coach.

“I wouldn’t be in these positions if it wasn’t for the knowledge and confidence I have gained by doing my coaching qualifications and the people I have met along the way.”

Those interested in learning more about the programme can do so by contacting their regional Girls and Women’s Development Officer – a full list of contact details can be found here.