Mentoring is widely acknowledged as an increasingly more powerful and important aspect of developing and retaining people in sport, including leaders, officials and coaches. As detailed in the Development section, providing coaches with a mentor, helping them develop a small group of peer mentors, and linking them to wider networks of coaches, both male and female, gives them access to support when they need it. This will help women coaches be resilient and assist when they may need advice, support and encouragement to stay in the game (Women in Sport Coaching,2016).

According to the Sport Ireland Coaching Report, participants noted the variation of having female role models and mentors available and visible. Most found value from having a mentor who was either male or female, but emphasis was placed on the particular benefits of having a female mentor within a sporting context. They noted the importance of female role models in encouraging and inspiring a pathway in coaching for other females.

I had changeable mentors over the path of the eight years I was coaching. Initially, it would have been the two female coaches that were in the age group ahead of me. I would have looked to them, but then after that, I was looking for best practices around the club. I found another mentor that was male. He was of a developmental style as well. I looked to him for guidance and all that kind of stuff. I also got involved as well in mentoring, I was also mentoring age groups behind me.

Focus Group Participant, Sport Ireland Women in Coaching Research, 2021

As outlined under the Barriers for Progression in the Sport Ireland Women in Coaching Research, key issues for many women in coaching include confidence (in certain situations), gaining practical coaching experience (especially at a high performance level), and access to informal and formal networks. Having a mentor who can help check, challenge, advise and support a female coach, can be a really powerful tool in addressing the issues and often opening doors to people and opportunities.

Coaching Association of Canada’s ‘Building an Effective Mentorship Programme’

Coaching Association of Canada Mentorship Guide (Mentee)

Coaching Association of Canada Mentorship Guide (Mentor)

Coaching Association of Canada Mentorship Guide (Administrator)

Click on the following link for a full range of mentoring resources from the Coaching Association of Canada

A coach helps a female rower in her boat