A Week In The Life of A Grass Roots Women’s Football Manager

9th November 2016

By Graham Fletcher

I always wanted to be a Football Manager. I always believed I could make a difference but didn’t realise how difficult and challenging it could be. That said it is also immensely rewarding.

I thought I would start this article moments after the end of match on Sunday afternoon. After the usual tidy up of the ground,we share the ground with Cheltenham Saracens and like to keep it spick and span, I take the opportunity to grab a slice of pizza, our post-match meal of choice. I’m asked to do an interview for one of the many University of Gloucestershire students who cover our matches. This could be audio or video so I need to make sure I’m well presented.

In the back of my mind I’m thinking about next weeks game, and when I get home I write up my notes from the game, ready for training on Tuesday.

That evening I post to our Facebook team group reminding the players to confirm availability for Tuesday. We always like to plan to see what the numbers are likely to be, if we don’t get 25 + I’m disappointed. I also like to know who is available for the next game, nothing like forward planning!! Have a quick scan of the results in our division to see what has happened and see where we sit in the table.

Monday, I write a match report for our website and send copy to the excellent Jon Palmer who is sports editor of the Gloucestershire Echo. Their coverage is vital for us as it helps promote the women’s game in the region. I’m thinking about Tuesday’s training night, so will speak to my coach, and decide on what we are going to do at training.

Tuesday, is the crucial day of the week. We get a precious hour and a half, to coach the group. So its a 30 minute warm up, then into a drill of some sorts, we like to pass the ball in a game, so its usually a passing drill, or team shape. Players are always the same, jumping at the chance when I say we are playing a game, at the end of the session. We try and play 11 v 11 and mix the Dev players and 1st team together. Always finish on a positive I say.

Wednesday, write piece for match programme if we are playing at home. We have a 12 page, full colour programme for every home game, courtesy of two of our fantastic sponsors, Typecraft and Fennick Design.

Thursday, is training night at the Cheltenham YMCA sports hall, we do some strength and conditioning work, and play futsal, so all good for fitness. We have recently had the privilege to work with the Cotswold Commando training team and it’s making a huge difference.

Friday and Saturday are the two days when I hope my phone doesn’t ring. I don’t like players to ring me to say they can’t play as that always means a reshuffle, but luckily we have an excellent Development squad. I always like 14 players in the 1st team. I also send an email to the Gloucestershire Echo, giving him team lists for both sides, and match preview. All week I will have been in contact with the rest of the management to keep them up to date with player issues and helping to provide content for our website and social media channels.

Sunday, arrives, I aim to be at the ground for 12 noon. So before I get there, I get some cash to pay the referees and assistants, order the pizza, fill my car with everything we need for the game, footballs, cones, bibs, physio kit, you name it. My own kit bag, with match team sheets, and my favourite piece of green card, to make notes on during the game.

Arrive at the ground, the nets and flags have been put up by our great volunteers and everything is open for the players and spectators, we are nearly ready to play. I have a check list of 40 items which I go though on every match day. I like the players to arrive at 12:45pm, get changed and have a warm up. I will announce the team, before they go out, we have a few words what the plans are, and then it’s over to the coach to warm the team up. I have to complete all of the match paperwork, meet the match officials, and with the opposition manager, exchange team sheets, and hand in a team sheet to the referee.

The most important time, the pre-match team talk, giving the players the last snippets of inspired wisdom, and get them prepared for the 90 minutes ahead.

During the game, I stand up, can’t sit down, and am continually getting told off for not staying in my technical area, I do move around a lot. It’s difficult to make too many changes when the game is on, so it’s all about positive encouragement. Half time arrives, another important 15 minutes, make any changes, it’s all about staying positive.

Game over, all the effort is worth it if we win and sometimes even if we lose but play well, shake hands with the opposition manager and match official, team does a cool down,I may say a few words after the game. I then pay the officials, make a few notes of what happened, get changed, and then hunt out that piece of pizza, and we start all over again.

I’m sure all managers will recognise some or most of this – a week in the life of a grassroots manager.

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