Female sports coaching standard at all-time high at the University of Birmingham

By in Governance, People & Places

Friday 27th October 2017

Following the announcement earlier this year that the University of Birmingham was selected as one of eight official FA High Performance Football Centres in the country, it’s fair to say that the University is firmly on the map for its world class facilities, elite athletes and superb sport opportunities for young and aspiring sportspeople. But further to this, it’s the behind the scenes support that truly makes the University exceptional in its offering. Recently, the level of coaching expertise was increased even further for netball and triathlon.

Last month, the University’s Lead Triathlon Coach, Lou Barron, was accepted onto the latest cohort of UK Coaching’s ‘Women into High Performance’ programme, securing one of the 18 coveted places. Having started coaching in 2002, Lou became the Lead Triathlon Coach at the University in 2011, where she still coaches and runs a club of 106 triathletes, including a high performance squad of 12. Lou said about her selection: ‘There is such a great history of women coaches who have graduated from this course and I am privileged and excited to be joining them. I’m looking forward to seeing how this will push my coaching to the next level and develop the existing talent at the University.’

This elite pathway, funded by Sport England and UK Sport, allows female coaches to prepare for the demanding requirements of high performance coaching positions with support, funding and guidance. The bespoke programme is aimed at female coaches who have been identified by their National Governing Body, in this case British Triathlon. With few women operating in the performance pathway, not only is it an exceptional achievement for a coach who has been so dedicated and committed to nurturing talent for so long, it will be hugely beneficial to the University’s triathlon club.

Adding to the University’s high performance coaching team is Dannii Titmuss, recently recruited as Head of
Netball for the University. Dannii, who is also the Wasps U21 coach, will oversee all four of the netball
teams, creating a fantastic alliance with the West Midlands Superleague team. Dannii, with 8 years of performance coaching under her belt in both the UK and Australia, will align theWasps U21 programme with coaching for the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) teams, allowing players that are part of both teams to train with a coherent and structured schedule, as the currentSuperleague champions continue to engage and enhance the sport in the region. Dannii’s presence at the university already seems to be motivating the club, with all four teams winning their first BUCS home games of the season last week, including a nail-biting match against Loughborough where the 1st team won 55-52.

Currently, the University has three netball scholars for the 2017-18 academic year who are all part of the
Wasps squad: first year student and England U21 Captain, Francesca Williams (Economics), first year and
Wasps U21 player, Ashleigh Dekker (Philosophy) and second year Biomedical science scholar Hannah
Leighton, who is also in the Wasps U21 Academy.

Having these two high-class coaches on board is fantastic for the University, highlighting the exceptional
standard of coaching available to students and scholars, as well as showcasing the offering of both the
netball and triathlon clubs.