Monday 13 November 2023, 16:00

Mentor and mentee praise FIFA Coach Education Scholarship programme

  • Victoria Boardman is one of the beneficiaries of the FIFA Coach Education Scholarship

  • Boardman and her mentor, Jonas Urias, highlight the working relationship they have established

  • “The programme has helped me in my quest to be the best version of me"

"It's huge, it's really huge. There are not enough programmes that help or support women coaches. Not enough resources to support personal development. It's difficult to get to top positions in football. A woman can not only be good; she must be exceptional. That's why a programme like this, which brings together and supports female coaches, as well as creates a network, is especially important".

Victoria Boardman is unequivocal about the importance of FIFA creating such opportunities through the FIFA Coach Education Scholarship, one of eight FIFA Women's Development programmes. To be eligible for a Coach Education Scholarship, applicants must among other criteria hold a C Licence or higher and be actively coaching a team in a competition. The core objectives meanwhile are to:

  1. Increase the number of qualified female coaches working in the game.

  2. Create easier pathways for women’s football players to gain qualifications and increase their opportunities to obtain employment in coaching during or after their playing career.

  3. Educate and inspire female players and coaches to ensure longer careers in the game.

North Carolina Courage’s assistant coach Victoria Boardman

Boardman is a 39-year-old former England youth international who has been assistant coach with NWSL side North Carolina Courage FC since March 2023. Boardman’s next goal is to obtain a Pro Licence by December 2024 "I found the programme very valuable and would say it exceeded my expectations. The whole experience depends on who your mentor is and what kind of connection you make with that person. I had that connection," the Londoner told FIFA.com.

Her mentor was Brazil's Jonas Urias, a former coach at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2022™, scout for the senior national team at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023™ and, since August, coach of the women's team at Cruzeiro Esporte Clube de Belo Horizonte.

FIFA instructor Jonas Urias during the FTC Women's Football Filming at HoF

Urias, who is also a FIFA Technical Expert, equally praised the programme's guidelines. "It's excellent to give young and talented female coaches the opportunity, not only through scholarships, but also through mentoring during the season. This way they can evaluate and share results, teach, and learn, all in a safe environment with their mentor. It's a fantastic way to support their development.”

Boardman is keen to stress the positive relationship she established with Urias. "Being an online mentorship, if you don't have two people really committed to the project, it would have been very difficult to adjust ways of working and timelines. But Jonas made it super easy. The first Zoom meeting lasted almost two hours. I initially thought, 'this is a lot for me', but Jonas gave me plenty of autonomy.”

It's excellent to give young and talented female coaches the opportunity through mentoring during the season.

Jonas Urias

Boardman originally imagined her mentor would be a woman but explained: "I wouldn't have traded Jonas for anything in the world. He put so much time into each of his presentations. He is very modern in his approach and was extremely open about his personal story and his journey in women's football. He always listened to me and was always available.”

Urias returned praise for Boardman. The Englishwoman, who combined a coaching role with that of a professional footballer until her retirement in 2013, has also been a member of the US women's youth scouting network since 2020.

"Victoria is great, and I have no doubt she will become one of the best coaches in the world. She is talented, organised, knows what she wants and has a great heart and empathy for people. I didn't feel like we were mentor and apprentice, but two coaches with international experience sharing ideas in a safe environment," he said. Boardman stresses the importance of her mentor's words. "He made me believe in myself, he helped my confidence grow, and I was grateful for that because it's usually one of my weaknesses. Several times he stressed to me that I'm ready to be a Head Coach, something I didn't believe myself yet.”

In this context, Boardman is setting herself ‘realistic goals’, spurred on by the examples of three former players at the recent FIFA Women's World Cup.

I want to be the best version of myself. The FIFA Coach Education Scholarship has really helped me in that quest.

Victoria Boardman

"What Sarina (Wiegman) has done for coaches is fantastic, because she is exceptional. Of course, Martina (Voss-Tecklenburg) and Pia (Sundhage) are also great examples: you can't be what you can't see, and they all give visibility to coaching. As a player, I was part of a generation that was just starting to have role models. Nowadays, women have many more to look up to."

What's next for Boardman? "I feel I've had two very good years as an assistant and I'm happy with my contribution in two teams (North Carolina Courage and San Diego Wave). The next step would be to have a chance as a Head Coach," she says. "Today in the NWSL there are more women getting opportunities to coach. For now I'm obsessed with improving, without comparing myself to anyone else. I want to be the best version of myself for when my opportunity comes, whether in the US or elsewhere. And this FIFA Coach Education Scholarship has really helped me in that quest.”

Graduates from the FIFA Coach Education Scholarship Programme:

Amrutha AravindValliyathIndia
AmyMerricksEngland
AmyArmisteadAustralia
CatherineCannuliAustralia
DanaKeremIsrael
DovratVan OuwerkerkIsrael
FayeChambersAustralia
FreyaCoombeUSA
IreneHehirRep. of Ireland
KellyStirtonAustralia
Kimde BruinNetherlands
KristinePedersenDenmark
LauraHeffernanRep. of Ireland
LizDohertyAustralia
MaraWattsAustralia
MariSavolainenFinland
MariyamMirfathMaldives
MichalRavitz LurieIsrael
NicolaWilliamsAustralia
SarahLowdonUSA
SiyanaAminathMaldives
TanyaOxtobyEngland
TiarnPowellAustralia
VictoriaBoardmanUSA
VinnieBaunDenmark
YoungjeongParkKorea Rep.

Coach Education Scholarships