As part of the 2021 campaign, continuing our pledge and commitment to growing the game, we have been hosting a series of free online workshops around women’s football with our professionals across the Club.
The series has covered business and management perspectives, as well as coaching and technical tips, with fans invited to pitch questions in Q&As.
And the workshops have proven a roaring success with some of the highlights from each one noted below...
Growing sportswear brands in the women’s football landscape
Over the last decade women’s football has experienced rapid growth, with accelerating attendances, audiences, and investment from global organisations helping draw increased attention to the game around the world.
PUMA and Manchester City shared their own experiences of this journey with the key topic focusing on change within the industry.
Manchester City Women's Managing Director Gavin Makel recalled his journey with the Club, since City re-launched as a professional outfit back in 2014, declaring the biggest change he has witnessed is the professionalisation of the women's game.
"The first day of training in 2014, Steph Houghton said: ‘I can’t believe we get our kit washed’ and that blew my mind!" he revealed.
"You assume it’s a given but not for the women, they were having to work during the day and train at night."
Gavin told the story of how our women's team became professional, as City strove to break barriers and change perceptions of women's football.
Meanwhile, Serena Gosling (Director of Retail and Licensing with City Football Marketing), Mark Eden (Manager Man City Partnership, PUMA) and Julia Kramer (Senior Product Line Manager Teamsport Licensed, PUMA) also discussed the evolving future of the game, and women's sportswear.
"The development in women’s football is tremendous," Julia declared. "We’ve come from a place where we didn’t have any female products to a place now where we’ve got all products in female cuts.
"In the past we had the approach one size fits all, but this is not what we stand for. We wanted to create these products for women, so they feel as comfortable as men playing football.
"We are trying to bring them to the forefront and make them more visible to raise the awareness of female football, so it becomes more normal than the exception."
The point was also made that no matter who plays football, the players have the same level of fun, emotion and connection.
"It is huge that we work with like-minded partners, like PUMA, because that will only drive the game forward," Gavin continued.
"City as a whole was built by a family to give something back to the community. That has always remained true and continues to this day.
"That Same City, Same Passion value is what drives us all along. Women's sport is here, women's football is here and it's not going anywhere - it's only going to get bigger."
Academy football and youth development
Technical Director Manchester City Girls Academy Martin Harrison joined us to share his professional insights on the academy system; developing individuals within a team; providing structure in training; and managing and communicating with players during COVID-19.
"The aim behind everything we do is help these players become better people and that's our first goal," he explained.
"Fundamentally, for us as a Club, it's about being able to provide the safest environment and encourage all of our players and their individual development."
Martin also talked about the importance of hard work and role models in the game, encouraging attendees to soak up as much information, knowledge and experience as they could by watching their heroes.
The subjects of education and physical fitness and wellbeing were also discussed, while Martin's top tips for success as a female footballer included: play as much as possible and find enjoyment, gain knowledge and listen to the experts and practice effective communication.
Managing athletic performance
Helen Sandall (Lead Physiotherapist for Manchester City Women) and James McCarron (Head of Sports Science and Medicine for Manchester City Wome) joined us to offer their insights on how the medicine and science team help enable the team on the pitch to win.
"We’re onto something here in terms of the influence Manchester City Women and wider women’s football can really have on a lot of people’s lives," Helen said.
"When we first started out, we were having to train in the evenings in a local primary school after work for the women and I was having to work out of a storage room, clearing out the lost property to make room for the physio bed!
"The Club fully embraced us, and you could see from the start even with the branding around CFA, it was equal with men’s and women’s.
"We’re still on a journey and will continue to develop, but when you think - it’s not that long ago that we were such a small set-up - and then where we are now, it’s exciting to see what the next five years will look like and what we can achieve."
Helen's top tips for success were: maintaining an awareness of mental wellbeing, allowing time for rest and recovery and taking things one step at a time.
James agreed that everyone should be kind to themselves and spoke of the importance of staying connected to family and friends, adding that practicing goal-setting can help to accomplish targets.
Further discussion points included how sports science can enable top athletic performance, aiding City's attractive style of play.
Roundtable with the Women’s coaching team
Head Coach Gareth Taylor, Assistant Manager Alan Mahon and Goalkeeping Coach Chris Williams discussed the biggest learnings and challenges of their coaching careers so far, sharing their advice for grassroots coaches.
The rapid rise of the women's game was the main topic of discussion, including the Club's on-pitch success and impressive development of young players.
The coaches hailed the hard work of those behind-the-scenes as well as the players, explaining there's a lot more to winning a game than the 90 minutes on the pitch!
"If you look back at how the women's game has grown over the last five, six or seven years, it's grown so much that women can now see this as their full-time career," Gareth said.
"When I came into the women's game, to see the effort and graft they put in on a daily basis... it's fantastic to watch it grow as it has done over the last seven years.
"Hopefully, as a Club, we'll continue to grow at the rate we have done and continue to push the boundaries. Hopefully, we'll improve our trophy haul - the main ones being the league title and on top of that, making an impression in Europe.
"I have seen a huge profile raise in the women's game over the last couple of years. it's growing from strength to strength."
All three coaches gave their advice and tips for achieving dreams. Gareth advised focus on targets and enjoyment for players, and authenticity and support for coaches.
Alan also spoke of having passion for the game and encouraged people to ask questions, whilst being respectful, and Chris noted the importance of being observant, soaking up everything you see.
Virtual Meet & Greet
The series was rounded off with a brilliant meet-and-greet session with three of our women's team players: Academy graduate Esme Morgan, Scotland Player of the Year Caroline Weir and World Cup winner Sam Mewis.
Hosted by Cityzens Giving Young Leaders Leila and Denise, the session invited fans to ask questions of our City trio and there were plenty of topics discussed!
The players revealed their own role models, best achievements and hopes for the future, whilst also sharing their pre-match meals, toughest opponents in the ever-growing FA Women's Super League and biggest challenges.
"I think it is really important that we leave the game better than we found it," Sam stated.
"Pushing women’s football to continue to earn respect around the world, giving young girls opportunities everywhere to play and pushing for equal treatment.
"We have so much room to grow and I hope I can have even just a small impact on it in my career."