This week’s profile focuses on Katie Barrott, who is currently playing in the W-League for Upper Hutt. Barrott has also been a member of the Capital Football National Women’s League Squad since 2011, making her debut at just 14 years old. Barrott is heavily involved with coaching throughout the region and coaches at club level, on NZF Skills Centres and at Federation Talent Centre level.
Emma Evans takes a slightly different approach with this week’s Q&A and catches up with Barrott who has spent the past week as a candidate on the New Zealand Football Female Only Senior Level 2 Coaching Course. This week’s Q&A focuses heavily on the work, both on and off the pitch, that Barrott is doing to develop and raise the profile of girls and women’s football in the region.
Date of Birth – 10/06/1997
Junior Club – Western Suburbs
Current Club – Upper Hutt
- What do you enjoy most about coaching?
For me, I really enjoy the non-tangible, daily “rewards” that I get from working with players. The best job is one I can come home and feel good about what I’m doing for a living and what I’ve helped another person achieve that day. Sometimes, it’s just seeing a player come out of their shell or really enjoying their football. I also really value the influence I can have on a player to not only develop as a footballer but as a person off the field.
- What made you get in to coaching?
When I made National League, one of the expectations was that you went along to skills centres and other tournaments/events to help. From there, I realised that I wasn’t too bad at that and I had always had a passion for working with youth, so I continued to help more and more at events (even helping my dad as an assistant coach!). For me, it wasn’t an expectation or a job as such, it was purely something I enjoyed doing.
I think as well; my past coaches were a massive influence on my coaching journey. I have had coaches in the youth space that possibly didn’t help me love the game. As I grew older and realised what was and wasn’t acceptable, I decided that I would never allow a player of mine to feel the way I did and I wanted to provide a better environment for young girls.
I also learnt very early on through injury that being a player wasn’t a life-long career. However, that didn’t mean a career in other areas of football was impossible. I want to have football in my life for as long as I can, and coaching is a good path to look at if that’s the case.
- When did you first start coaching at Capital Football’s Federation Talent Centre? What is your favourite part of coaching at this level?
I first started when I was 16, as an assistant coach, and then slowly moved my way around teams before settling as a head coach for the 2004 FTC girls squad and I’m now in my 3rd year of working with them. I used to be in the same situation as them, so I enjoy providing what I may not have received when I was in their position. I get to see the girls improve in so many ways, and at times I see myself in them which is a pretty unexplainable feeling. I have the opportunity to guide and assist these girls to achieve their dreams, which is my ultimate goal.
- You have just started coaching on the first NZF Girls Only Skills Centre in Wellington, how important is it that clubs focus on these pathways for girls?
I look at the skills centre as one of the best steps made by a Wellington club in the girl’s space. A programme like this not only helps create a visible pathway for girls to follow their dreams to become a Football Fern, but it also looks after girls who may not want to go to the same level, but just enjoy playing. It’s less about a talent pathway for me, and more about getting more girls involved, and nurturing their love of the game. If all clubs can begin to provide these skills centres, it would do nothing but improve girls football in New Zealand.
- What prompted you to apply for the Senior Level 2 here in Wellington?
In all honesty, I was too scared to apply for it and thought being as young as I am that I would be out of my depth. I realised that was a fairly selfish approach and that this course was less about me and more about the girls I coach. The best thing a coach can be is a student, and by exposing yourself to learning opportunities as such, you are constantly improving yourself and what you can provide to your players. I also had a lot of encouragement from Emma Evans and that helped a lot with my confidence. I also knew how being accredited would open doors for coaching opportunities.
- What was the experience like for you throughout the week? Do you think the female only environment made a difference?
The first day I came in thinking there was no way I would survive the week. I was one of the youngest amongst the group, and felt that I would be looked down on for that. By Day 2, the confidence in my ability and knowledge was back and I realised that all candidates were in the same boat. I went in looking at it as a learning opportunity, and that made things less scary. The female only environment definitely made a difference as it allowed us all to feel more valued and respected. Women in courses like this are regularly the minority to what tend to be very dominant males, so an environment like this removed all those worries.
- What is the key learning you took away from the week?
For me, I learnt a lot about session planning and how to get the most out of my team’s training time. I learnt how to analyse the game in better detail, as I can get caught getting in “player mode” and just watching the game as it is, rather than specific aspects. I also learnt how incredible women are, and how important women supporting other women is.
- How important do you think female coaches and role models are for female players in New Zealand?
There has obviously been increasing numbers of female participants in sport over the years. Which in turn increases the number of girls seeing how cool it is to be competitive and involved in sports. You’d think that would lead to an increase in female coaches, but that’s just not the case. Even though we are seeing women achieve in sport at many levels, somewhere after their athletic career females seem to get lost in the shuffle of coaching. With the perception of male dominance in coaching and leadership in sport, women aren’t seeing coaching as a worthwhile career. Some men also believe women don’t fit the role, which creates some discrimination when it comes to coaching.
Having females in leadership roles gives female athletes a role model that they can relate to. Young girls need to have more positive female influences in their life, especially in times like this. Having a male coach of a female team may send the message that opportunities for females are limited and only restricted to playing.
Leadership in sport is not only to teach younger generations about skills in their sport, but also their life outside of sport like teamwork and respect. It’s just as important to teach them about gender equality as well, and what a better way than by showing it with females leading sport.
I don’t mean to seem like I’m bashing male coaches in the female space, but I’m suggesting females have qualities they can provide in the girl’s space that males potentially couldn’t. The relatability, empathy and communication skills I have had from my female coaches has been above and beyond what I have had from my male coaches. These traits are something most female athletes look for, and are ultimately the ones which will keep them having fun and enjoying the game.
- What piece of advice would you give to women who want to get involved in coaching and give back to the game as you have?
I think it all comes down to appreciating the value you found in football as a player, and then being able to provide that to other young girls. Giving back is something we as athletes don’t do enough. I’m not saying everyone should become a coach for their career, but I think we should all give back in some way, whether that’s donating old gear to clubs, volunteering at a First Kicks programme, or even as simple as just encouraging female athletes and female success in all areas.