Patience Pays Off
The following excerpt of this story is courtesy of the May 2021 issue 006 of Women’s Soccer Coaching: https://www.womenssoccercoaching.com/
Her Blackburn Rovers side were twice denied promotion before finally being admitted to the FA Women’s Championship. Boss GEMMA DONNELLY tells us how she kept her cool – and recalls a rollercoaster of a coaching story.
Interview by LIV GRIFFITHS
Article by ANDREW RAEBURN
Gemma Donnelly has been on one hell of a journey. And she knows precisely when it first turned in her favour.
It wasn’t in 2019, when the Blackburn Rovers team she leads were finally granted promotion to the FA Women’s Championship – the second tier of English football – after three successive seasons dominating the division below.
It wasn’t even in 2014, when her side narrowly avoided relegation to tier four on the final day of the season, and she vowed to staff “we are never going through that again”.
No, the “lightbulb moment”, as she refers to it, came in November 2013, after a low-key cup game against local opposition.
It was her second match in temporary charge of the team, after previous boss John Prince had stepped down.
As head of the women’s section, it was Donnelly’s job to find Prince’s replacement – but she did not consider herself as an option until a chance conversation with a former Rovers player who lined up for the opposition that day.
“She said, ‘I always thought you would take over the running of the team at some stage, why have you not?’,” Donnelly recalls.
“At the time, I kind of shrugged it off and just thought there’s no way I can lead the team, I’m not ready for that yet.
“But quite quickly, I thought, ‘I’m going to try and see where I go with it’. I went into the club and said I would like to manage the team [permanently].
“My boss asked if I had time to do it, and I said I’d make time because I wanted to see what I could do with the team.
For the rest of the story by Liv Griffiths in the article by Andrew Raeburn please go to the May 2021 issue 006 of Women’s Soccer Coaching found at https://www.womenssoccercoaching.com/ and subscribe.
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