A former Wetherby High School student is making her way in the world of football coaching with the Leeds United Foundation.
Penny Lines, who left the school this July, has taken a coaching course jointly funded by the foundation, the Premier League, Sport England, and the National Lottery as part of the Premier League for Girls campaign, which aims to increase girls’ participation in football.
After volunteering in some of the Premier League girls’ sessions, she is now being paid to shadow head coaches and lead her own coaching in schools, and her progress to this point will be a case study in the Leeds United Foundation’s end of year report.
Penny, aged 18, said: “Before I went on the course I wouldn’t speak to anybody I didn’t know, I would get so nervous, but it really helped me with my future and now I’m taking a few sessions myself and the aim is to build on that.
“Not many girls take part in football, we used to struggle to get five players for a game every week, but if more people know about what the Leeds United Foundation can do to help, there is more chance of girls participating.”
PE teacher and post-16 enrichment coordinator Jenny McCartney has been supporting Penny in her pursuit of a career in football, and she has been filmed speaking about her former student as part of the case study.
She said: “At Wetherby High School we have developed girls’ football over the last 10 years, and we are one of the few schools to bring it forward.
“Penny’s interest in football grew throughout her time here and she was always a very keen footballer and showed an interest in coaching sport.”
After some work experience at a primary school, Penny took a level one football coaching course.
She increased her confidence and got started in what she is doing now, both in her level two certificate and in her work.
Mrs McCartney said: “The confidence and self-esteem she has picked up from these sessions, and from people believing in her, has been huge.
“To have somebody else supporting her is a fantastic opportunity for Penny and the level two qualification was a really big deal for her because it showed their commitment to her and that she has the potential to go through to a career.
“I am so proud of Penny and the work she has put in to get to where she is now, and I am grateful for the opportunity she has had and the support the foundation has given her to make her way forward.
“It has been a great partnership and hopefully this will just be the start and there will be other students we can work with and develop our links with Leeds United further.”
The school directed the foundation to Penny and they spoke about career paths in football that she might be able to pursue.
Operations manager at the Leeds United Foundation Michael Kinsey, himself a former student of Wetherby High School, said these talks were very successful, and Penny is already on her way to coaching football by supporting head coaches in schools.
He said: “Our aim is to have Penny coming back into sport and the work we do with the Premier League girls’ programme to hopefully then lead sessions and inspire the girls on the programme who will see in her what you can go on to do.”