-2020: Women coaches on the policy agenda and a return to women-centred approaches

The last decade has seen an increased focus on recruiting more women coaches in elite sport coaching positions, and there are some indications that these efforts are starting to pay off. In June 2020, Norway got its first female head coach for a male elite football team when Renate Blindheim was announced as Sotra Sportsklubb's new head coach.55 In her first season as head coach she had great success, as her team remained undefeated for the first six matches of the season.56 Sotra is a club in Norway’s third division (2 divisjon), and Blindheim has expressed that she believes that we will not see a female head coach for a male football team in the national top division (eliteserien) for a very long time.57

In NIF's national sport policy for 2015-2019, recruiting more women into coaching positions was stated as a goal for the organization,58 so increasing the number of women coaches in Norwegian sport became an explicit goal in national sport policies. To reach the political goal of recruiting more women coaches, NIF made several efforts, such as hosting seminars and educational programmes with ‘best practice' examples from sports federations with high percentages of women coaches and establishing networks for women coaches across sports federations.59 Many national sports federations also followed the example of NIF by introducing new educational projects to recruit and empower women coaches. For instance, national sports federations for boxing, football, handball, skateboarding, and basketball have hosted high-profile women-only coaching courses as a way of recruiting more women coaches into their ranks.

It is perhaps sport-specific initiatives, such as the Norwegian Basketball Federation’s project Her World, Her Rules, and the Norwegian Boxing Federation’s Norway Female Box, that have resulted in a significant increase in women coaches in Norway. A survey from 2016 showed that 14% of national team coaches were women, which was an increase from the 8% found in the survey data from 2OO8.60 Additionally, the latest survey data (from 2017) indicates that 26% of volunteer coaches in Norwegian sport are women.61 This latest study highlights that, even though there is an increase in the number of women coaches in grassroots sport, women resign as coaches at an earlier age than male coaches. One of the main reasons appears to be managing the coaching role with work and family life, as addressed in LDO's 2008 statement. However, the latest survey data also suggests that women coaches experience barriers in terms of coaching education, experience, self-esteem, and gender-based discrimination.62 Addressing these barriers is crucial for the recruitment and development of women coaches in Norwegian sports organizations.

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