My first season as a head coach – the journey with Leeds Beckett WFC 3’s

Ethan Holmshaw
Ethan Holmshaw

Operations director at The Holmshaw Academy

I have just recently finished my first season managing a women’s football team finishing the season with a formal celebration awards night.

How did the season go?

Quite honestly it has possibly been one of the most challenging yet enjoyable seasons coaching a team I have ever experienced. I started the season with a team of approximately 40 players (a lot I know!) to a third of a 3G training pitch. It was safe to say I was thrown in the deep end for my first season in charge and while at the time I found this difficult and at times frustrating, I am now so grateful to have received this challenge due to the sheer amount I have learnt both about coaching and myself.

Leeds Beckett University womens 3’s

It was clear to me early on that we had a tough season ahead and were probably the underdogs in our league. While we come from a popular and well known university we were still a third team in a league of first and second teams meaning we would face some good players.

To sum up our season, we started as a team of individuals struggling to create any chances and losing some games quite heavily. To then finish the season performing as a team and winning our last couple of games.

How did you manage to grow as a team and be successful?

I was aware that quite a few of our players were ‘freshers’ meaning they were new to the club and so it was a big task to create a team environment with so many players. After 5 games it was pretty clear we were in a-bit of a rut, losing games and arguing throughout causing even heavier losses. I knew this arguing was down to the pressure put on ourselves to win which was causing a breakdown in communication across the team and a-lot of unhappy players.

My first port of call was seeking advice from the head of football at Leeds Beckett Ruth Brazier and my brother Sam Holmshaw. After explaining the situation they both suggested it would be a good idea to redefine success.
After a team meeting going through this my team defined the following as successful: After this each game was approached with positivity and a fight as a team. While we didn’t win every game I’m proud of each player and each team performance.

What were your favourite moments?

My personal favourite moment was in one of the latter games. We had a great chance of winning our keeper was unfortunately sent off in the first 20 minutes. For the following 70 minutes I’d never seen such a fight in my players as I did
then, each battling for each other and doing their best for the team. While we didn’t get the result we wanted, I was one proud manager.

Our first win came in a must win game against Huddersfield University first team, which was a bit of a local derby for me personally with our Advanced football lead coach Hasting Ellis also being the head coach of that team, and beating us in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. That day each player turned up ready and raring to go, with a positive mental attitude and a hunger as a team to win, and they did just that. After falling behind they fought back and battled for every goal resulting in a 4-2 win.

Final thoughts of this experience?

Unfortunately the season ended with our relegation due to our relegation rivals being awarded 3 points by another team. However, I think the most pleasing thing was the fact we would have survived had this not happened. At the same time I as a coach/manager had redefined success for my team and myself and was happy with what I had achieved. Each girl would fight and battle for the team and had my back no matter what. We had built a great environment to be apart of and I couldn’t be prouder. I think that my first season stepping up as a head coach was an amazing learning experience, a great success both on and off the pitch, and I cannot wait to get going next season!

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