Life Care News
A Hope Of True Information

Want to be a woman coach? You need to push past the pain, says Olympic gold medallist and men’s hockey coach, Katie Allen


09 Mar 2023 – More than two decades after winning Olympic gold in front of a home crowd at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000, Australian hockey player Katie Allen still serves as a powerful role model, this time for female coaches at the very top levels of sport.

Men and women now compete in roughly equal numbers at the Olympic Games, but the number of women coaches is low. At the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, for example, just 13 per cent of coaches were women. The IOC is working to increase the number of female coaches, including through its Women in Sport High-performance pathway (WISH) programme, a bespoke four-year effort to equip about 100 women for coaching at elite levels. This online series of interviews about women coaches aims to inspire others too.

From part-time to top-level coaching in men’s sport

Katie moved into coaching herself after winning 182 international caps with Australia, bringing home gold medals not just from the Olympics, but also two World Cups and the Commonwealth Games, as well as a Hockey Champions Trophy. She started her coaching career part-time with junior and state teams in Victoria, then coached the men’s first team at Camberwell Hockey Club which plays in Australia’s premier league. Last year, she moved to Spain to coach a top men’s hockey team, Real Club de Polo de Barcelona.

One of very few women at the top levels of coaching, especially in men’s sport, Katie says it is vital to get past the doubt and discomfort. “You do definitely feel a lot of doubt about: Am I capable of doing that? Do I have the skills?” she said. “But you’ve got to open yourself to feeling those doubts, feeling like, maybe I’m not going to be up to it.”

“I think it’s about getting past that and just going ‘Look, this is something I’m interested in,’ do give it a go and feel that pain of being inadequate or feeling like you’re not getting anywhere or you are not part of that level, and push through that.”

“It is very hard,” she said. “Be bold, and don’t succumb to the worries.” Katie said she had felt doubtful in every one of her coaching roles. But the ability to experience and push through doubt, losses and failure when things don’t go well is an important part of the role. “It’s for me that ability to sit with that, deal with that, but keep pushing through that and actually look for solutions, or look for time and perspective or another day sometimes, you know, where you do play well or you do coach well and things turn around.”

It’s important to have a plan, though. Katie said that everybody has strengths and weakness, and she tries to learn from others in areas where she is weak. Despite the importance of a long-term vision, Katie still wants to win every game. “There is nothing like winning and I’m not a great loser,” she said.

Clubs and teams should look harder to find the best person for the job

Katie thinks that multiple factors make it harder for women to break into coaching roles, but says that clubs and teams should look harder to find the best person for the job. “(It is) about an openness of teams or clubs or organisations to look more broadly and look at who are – across both genders and different countries and states – the best people we can look for,” she said. She hopes that her example and others will help the world to see that women can function well in such roles, encouraging recruiters to be more open-minded.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.