Emma Manning becomes first female coach at Ipswich Town

ITFC Academy coach Emma Manning at the Playford Road training centre.

ITFC Academy coach Emma Manning at the Playford Road training centre.

Ipswich Town have employed their first female coach in a ground-breaking move.

Manning coaching her under 9 players

Manning coaching her under 9 players

Emma Manning will take charge of the club’s Under-9 team and, in landing the role, has become one of only a handful of female coaches at professional football clubs in this country.

The 29-year-old has learnt her trade over a number of years, overseeing the development of girls through various roles at the Essex, Kent and Suffolk FAs, Colchester United and seasonal work in the United States.

“I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a football coach,” said the former personal trainer. “And as I’ve progressed it’s always been an aim of mind to break into the men’s side of the game.

“The elite side of the women’s game is obviously growing, but there are more opportunities for full-time work in the men’s game. Boys and men’s football is so much faster too and, as a coach, I want to test myself and get as far as I can.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to get into the men’s side of the game, but I’ve always wondered how realistic that would be. Working hard is one thing, but you also need someone to give you an opportunity and I’m really thankful that Ipswich have just looked at my ability and judged me on my merits.

“I think this is pretty massive for the coaching world actually. Hopefully it shows that there are opportunities out there for aspiring young female coaches.”

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Manning, who will continue her role as the Suffolk FA Ladies’ manager, is currently working towards her UEFA A Licence – the second highest coaching qualification in the game.

“I think, at the moment, my strengths lie with coaching the younger players,” she said. “Coaching is a lot more age specific these days and it’s important to encourage the younger ones to make decisions on a football pitch. You’re not just developing them technically, but also socially, physically and psychologically.”

She added: “Joining a football club with an academy so steeped in history as Ipswich Town’s is really exciting. I’ll just keep learning and see where it takes me.”

Lee O’Neill, assistant academy manager, said: “Emma has been with us since Christmas and is very good with the players, parents and staff.

“She is a great fit for what we are looking for from a coach at U9 Academy level. She has the ability to coach older players and I am sure over the next few years she will be given that opportunity within the Academy.”

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