Youth no bar to gaining mentoring programme spot

Jess Fuller has been accepted into New Zealand Football’s female coach mentorship programme....
Jess Fuller has been accepted into New Zealand Football’s female coach mentorship programme. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Jess Fuller has coaching experience well beyond what her age would suggest.

That will grow even further this year.

The 21-year-old has been accepted into New Zealand Football’s female coach mentorship programme.

The programme sought six upcoming coaches from around the country to be guided by three of New Zealand’s top female coaches — Gemma Lewis, Natalie Lawrence and Maia Vink.

It will be overseen by Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni.

Fuller, a post-graduate sports science student, applied for the programme not expecting much.

However, for someone so young in coaching terms, it is a very full CV she has put together.

Originally from Northland, she began coaching children when she was 15 years old.

She moved to Dunedin and attended Bayfield High School in 2016, continuing to work her way through the grades.

The past two seasons she has coached the Green Island youth boys team, while also being involved with the Southern United development team last season.

While unsure exactly what was involved in the mentor programme, it was something she was excited to have been accepted into, she said.

"I’m pretty grateful," she said.

"It’s going to be a pretty good opportunity to grow and develop.

"Hopefully, then I can help more people develop as football players and enjoy the game more."

On top of coaching, Fuller is also an accomplished player and is a member of the Green Island premier women’s side.

She said both coaching and playing helped each other.

Playing allowed her to be exposed to other coaches to learn off, while coaching gave her the perspective of what she would want a player to do in different positions on the field.

While coaching was her long-term focus, she was not sure whether it had gone ahead of playing right now.

"That’s a tough one; it’s a thought that’s been in my head.

"At this point I want to finish my playing days while I’m still young.

"But I do enjoy coaching a lot. I’m starting to sway towards that way."

The programme is designed to help female coaches around the country grow and develop.

New Zealand Football women’s development manager Ashleigh Cox said women were still a minority in coaching.

It was hoped having more women involved in those roles would change the narrative and visibility around the idea, she said.

It was hoped the programme would "open the doors" for more women to coach at a high level, but also inspire others to follow them into coaching.


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