'...it proved quite the challenge but after a few trials and over a year of hard work, we successfully managed to create 3 full sustainable teams of girls playing football that are still running to this day.'
Name, age, where are you based?
Gemma Huskins, aged 21, based in Leeds
Current and past roles
York City Regional Talent Club Coach (2018-present)
Full time job- Wakefield Trinity Foundation workforce development officer (2020)
University of York Women’s Second Team Coach (2018/2019)
Juventus Academy Melbourne Women and Girls Coach (2018)
Juventus Academy Kuwait Women and Girls Co-Ordinator (2017)
Arsenal Soccer Schools Coach (2016/2017)
Camp America Football Specialist Counselor (2016)
UEFA B License
FA Youth Award
Level 2 First Aid in Football
Level 2 Fitness Instructing
Level 1 Introduction to scouting
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
I first started coaching when my local girls’ team, that I had grew up playing for, folded and didn’t exist anymore. There are limited girls’ teams in my area anyway and I couldn’t sit back and watch the team I grew up making memories at have no opportunities for girls. My former teammate and best friend Caitlyn and I decided to get our Level 1 badges and set up a mixed age girls’ team, to give the local girls a chance to understand the importance of the club we grew up with.
The path from there took me to coaching in three different countries by the time I was 20 and to learn a lot as a coach and as an individual along the way. My journey across the world exposed me to things I could’ve never imagined and challenges I didn’t know I could face.
Any achievements or experiences you would like to share?
The biggest achievement of my coaching career so far has been the development of the girls programme in Kuwait. When I arrived in 2016, there was no female programme at any of the clubs or soccer schools and I quickly learnt that women in sport was not in the mainstream, especially in schools.
The lack of female sporting role models within schools and in the media, lead to a lot of the girls I met to not have opportunities in sport and have little to no understanding of any females in sport worldwide. After looking at the barriers and logistics of how and where we could host these girls playing football, it proved quite the challenge but after a few trials and over a year of hard work, we successfully managed to create 3 full sustainable teams of girls playing football that are still running to this day. Seeing the girls each week and introducing them to the world of football is something that I will forever feel privileged to do.
What prompted you to move abroad to coach and what advice would you give to any coach, who’s looking to make their first move abroad?
After leaving school I was never interested in the traditional forms of education pathways such as college or sixth form, so I decided on becoming a Sport and Active Lifestyle apprentice. After getting a taste of freedom, I was always curious about what was out there in the world, and my adventurous nature and passion for football development encouraged me to live out those dreams by doing Camp America in Summer 2016.
To anybody who is looking to go abroad, I would say don’t overthink it! You can find your ‘new normal’ and settle into a new routine if you have a positive mindset. One of the biggest things that helped me with the transition of moving abroad was finding a contract that was inclusive of housing, which made the move a lot smoother. However, when I moved to Melbourne I didn’t have the luxury of having pre-organized accommodation and found that Facebook groups such as ‘POMS in Melbourne’ and ‘English people in Aus’ really helped find a like-minded individual to move in with rather than going in blind when I got there.
I would encourage every person considering a move abroad to take the risk because the circumstances on the other side might be the push you need, to develop your coaching and discover your philosophy when it’s challenged in a new environment.
Were there any differences in your experiences in the U.S.A, Kuwait and Australia and what adaptions did you have to make in terms of your coaching and delivery?
All three countries were very different. The culture, the players, the families and the facilities were all so unimaginably varied. The USA culture had the strongest support for women’s football and girl’s development and high-quality facilities. The parents were very positive and supportive and the women’s football team is very advanced and respected so it’s no surprise that they already had a widespread participation within football.
Kuwait is a very reserved, strict Muslim cou