No Room For Racism

Asante: Career pathways promote diversity of ideas

22 Feb 2023

Former England defender on her journey into coaching at Bristol City Women

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It has been a whirlwind 12 months for former England defender Anita Asante.

Last summer she announced her retirement from playing after 19 years at the top of the women's game and soon afterwards she jumped into a coaching career, being appointed as a first-team coach for Bristol City Women.

"I felt like, 'It's now or never', " she told BBC Football Focus. "I've got to experience it, I've got live it a little bit to learn about who am I as a coach, who do I want to be as a coach and what knowledge can I share."

Asante is one of seven former players on the Premier League's Player to Executive Pathways Scheme, a pilot programme that was launched in November 2022.

The scheme is designed to help former players who are looking to develop careers in the game away from the pitch and forms part of the Premier League's commitment, as stated in the No Room For Racism Action Plan, to increasing diversity in leadership positions in all areas.

'Great opportunity'

"It is a great opportunity for former players like myself from underrepresented groups to learn about the wider business of football, to be in an environment where I can be supported and mentored," she says.

"This is really important because not only will it expand what football can do and who it can reach, but it will also allow us to expand diversity of thought and ideas and that's when you get the best processes in place within a club or an institution."

Asante may only be at the start of her coaching journey but she says the first few months have taught her a lot.

"Lots of doors opened for me during my playing days and it's the same with coaching," she says. "It's really a community of people who want to encourage former players like myself to be able to give back to the game by not losing that knowledge and by sharing my experience."

"The early weeks and months I had consistent headaches because I was constantly thinking, 'Are the players getting the outcomes that they want?'

"It has definitely stretched me from that perspective because now I have a greater respect for what coaches do to best support their players."

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