International Women's Day

'My role is to show young people what they can achieve'

By Mark Orlovac 7 Mar 2024
Brighton & Hove Albion, Hayley Templeman

As a Disability Development Officer and LGBTQ+ role model, see how Hayley Templeman inspires next generation in Brighton

Related Articles
Hayley recognised with Community Captain award External Link
'Being at the board table can inspire others'
'I'm privileged to see the impact our charity has in Burnley'

To mark International Women's Day on 8 March, we have spoken to five female leaders in football to learn about their experiences and inspirations.

We continue the series by hearing from Hayley Templeman, Premier League Inspires Disability Development Officer at Brighton and Hove Albion FC Foundation.

A former Brighton player, Hayley was honoured for her work at the Foundation, as well as her role as an LGBTQ+ role model, by being named as the club's Community Captain as part of the Premier League's 'More than a game' campaign.

Tell us about your background

I played for Brighton as a teenager before leaving when I was 18 to join the Women's Football Academy in Durham, which was the first one of its kind in the country.

I did my degree alongside playing football before returning to the Brighton first team for a couple of seasons.

I was one of those versatile players. One week we had two matches, I played up front in one and in goal in the other! It was grassroots then; it hadn't quite got to the stage where more funding was being put into the women's game.

I went travelling and set up sports programmes in India before working at the YMCA in New Zealand, delivering enrichment schemes for children that were struggling in mainstream education.

Currently I play for Brighton Seagals FC which is an award-winning inclusive team. I'm still trying to run around but it gets harder as I get older!

Brighton & Hove Albion, Hayley Templeman
What does your job entail?

At the Brighton and Hove Albion FC Foundation we try to make sure that we provide opportunities for those who have additional needs or use alternative provision and to support the education of those young people. We do classroom education as well as sports delivery and we work across Sussex with a team of coaches.

With Premier League Inspires we try to help young people develop aspirations and set themselves goals. We focus on three key areas, personal and social development, mental health and wellbeing as well as careers and aspirations.

We also deliver targeted interventions with girls to make sure that there's a space for them to work together and empower each other.

We work with young people from 10 secondary schools on a weekly basis, including young people with special educational needs (SEND) where we use sports provision to support learning.

Why did you want to do this role? 

I've always been passionate about football. I've played since I was 10-years-old.

I've got coaching badges and teaching qualifications and to get a job working in a role that combines football and education, was perfect for me.  

Why is this role important to you? 

The impact that we have on the participants we coach and support is really rewarding.

It's important to show young people that you can create career paths for yourself in football, and it doesn't have to be just on the pitch; there's so many opportunities out there to work in the game, whether it's marketing, the media or grounds people.

Part of my job is to show young people what they can achieve.

It's also showing that women can work in sport, even if you're not an elite player. That's something I didn't realise when I was younger.

It's trying to teach young people that anyone can do any role, it's about making sure that you've got the skills and the qualifications to get yourself there.

What does being an LGBTQ+ role model mean to you? 

Just being able to be myself, being able to say who I am and that not being seen as a negative, is massive.

We go into secondary schools in Brighton and deliver awareness workshops, what it [LQBTQ+] means, how to be an ally and how to be inclusive to young people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. It's about raising awareness and supporting young people who have questions.

The reception to these workshops has been really good. The Premier League's support of Rainbow Laces shows that it goes further than just what is happening in the classroom, it's national, international. That's really important.

Brighton and Hove Albion have been taking part in the Pride Parade which is fantastic for fans in the LGBTQ+ community to see.

Brighton Pride, Hayley Templeman

It makes them feel that if they are going to a match, they are going to be supported.

Who were your inspirations?

My PE teacher at school was very empowering. He always supported me playing football, asking if I was going to go for the Durham trial and making sure I filled in my application.

In the women's game, I would say Kelly Smith for what she has achieved. She went to America, came back and was amazing for Arsenal and England.

Seeing that there were females out there leading the way in the women's game showed me that there was opportunity to keep pursuing football as a career whether it was on or off the pitch.

How important are female role models in football?

It inspires young girls to think, 'it could be me; I could do that job.'

When we have our girls pathway sessions and events, we always try to make sure we've got female role models there.

If a girl doesn't see females in the game, how are they going to know that it is something that they could do?

How has the landscape changed for women in football?

When I was younger it was less accepting. I played for a girls' football team but I always felt that society had the attitude that females don't play football.

Now, people don't think of it like that. It's more empowering for females and young girls to get into football.

I feel proud of what I've achieved and hopefully that has had an impact on other young people who are trying to think of career paths for themselves. Hopefully I have had a positive impact in that contribution that females make to the game. 

It's come a long way but we should keep building.

The theme of International Women's Day 2024 is inspire inclusion, how do you do that in your role? 

It's making sure that we create the same opportunities for everyone, particularly on the disability side of our work. It's adapting what we do to make sure that what we deliver is inclusive.

For example, we have a SEND Albion Cup to make sure that there's competitive opportunities for pupils with special educational needs. Some of the young people might never have had that opportunity.

Brighton & Hove Albion, Albion Cup

It doesn't have to be that you're the best footballer to receive a medal, everyone that comes to the tournament gets one.

Seeing a child that's never got an award get a medal because they have given it everything they can, is why I do the role.

We also work with our coaches to make sure that we're using inclusive language, and if they're using a role model to talk about when someone scores a goal, don't always use a male one.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't achieve something. Challenge society, challenge perceptions.

I think I have done that along the way and hopefully I'm a role model and inspiration to other young people, boys, girls, anyone, to show them what they can achieve if they apply themselves.

Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation is one of more than 100 club charities supported by the Premier League via the Premier League Charitable Fund to create positive sporting, health, personal and education opportunities for children, young people and the wider community.

To find out more about our work, click here.

Also in this series

Latest Videos

More Videos