The FA

Optimising The Female Player Pathway

Understanding the player experience

Mapping Sporting Success

The last five years have witnessed rapid change in women’s football. Its profile has risen and it has started to shape an identity of its own, discrete from the men’s game. But the FA recognise that, for all of the progress made, these are still early days on the journey.

They came to Crowd DNA wishing to understand what works, and what doesn’t, on the ‘player pathway’ to the professional game. What needs to be addressed in all areas of development, from the technical and tactical to the physiological, psychological and social.

Also to explore the intersectionality of the challenge, including factors such as age, ethnicity, location and economic situation. We got kitted up…

Project Design

Core to our design was to hear as many voices, to understand as many perspectives, as we could firsthand:

+ Interviewing FA stakeholders, club and academy staff across the UK, players’ parents and guardians; and, of course, the players themselves - discussion groups with those playing at under 10 through to under 21 level

+ Outside of the interviews, we searched for transferrable learnings in other areas - such as the US collegiate system, from football-related not-for-profits and even from drama schools

Applying Strategic Frameworks

We used two of our frameworks to help make best sense of what we heard: a ‘jobs to be done’ model to focus on the pains, gains, and needs that matter most to young female footballers; and our Crowd Journeys method to help us think about how the different touchpoints on the journey flex, and what the primary causes of this are.

We ran workshop sessions with the FA team, applying our findings accurately to both shorter and longer-term player pathway strategy. Empathising with real experiences, coupled with well structured strategic thinking, we helped place women’s football on the next stage of its bold progression