The new head coach of Velocity’s full-time female education course has hailed the programme as a “major step forward” for girls’ football.
Lauren Haynes, captain of Oxford United Women’s FC, will lead Velocity’s female programme at the home of Oxford City FC. It is the first full-time course of its kind in Oxfordshire, offering students the opportunity to focus on football alongside academic studies via one education programme. Open to students aged 16 to 18 and 19 to 23 years the BTEC and degree courses start next month.
Head Coach Lauren joins Velocity with a wealth of footballing experience both on and off-field. After representing Arsenal, Bristol City, and Aston Villa in the Women’s Super League, the Bicester-born midfielder returned to Oxfordshire to pursue a career in coaching following an injury setback which halted her dream to play professionally.
The 24-year-old has since completed her FA Level Two coaching certificate and will now partner with former West Bromwich Albion, Derby County, and Oxford United footballer Mickey Lewis and a team of UEFA B coaches to deliver Velocity’s courses.
Lauren said: “The creation of Velocity’s female programme is a huge step forward for the women’s game in Oxfordshire and the UK. There are plenty of boys’ education programmes across England, but there has never been anything distinctive like Velocity that focuses on female football – especially in Oxfordshire.
“To be involved with Velocity and its long-term plans is extremely exciting. Too often I see exciting female players drop out of football once their school years end, and that is simply because of the lack of opportunities available to pursue a career in the game.
“But with Velocity’s new programme, girls will be able to combine study within the football field and at the same time be able to chase a professional career as a player too. There is so much more to football than simply what happens on the pitch, and Velocity is about unlocking talent from young individuals that display a keen interest in the game and its different career paths.”
The course will be based at Oxford City’s stadium and the Community Arena in Marston and places are available to students who have four GCSEs.
Part of Lauren’s ambition with Velocity is to open new opportunities to students by introducing aspects of the course such as health and wellbeing, applied coaching skills, sports development, and sports psychology that they may not have considered as a career option previously.
She added: “I want to improve not just the footballer, but the person as well. If I can play a small or big part in improving our students in preparation for their professional career, then I will get no greater satisfaction.
“Seeing someone secure a full-time job in football or go on to become a professional is amazing. Girls in Oxfordshire have not had an opportunity like this is the past, so I am very excited to be part of it and help shape the lives of female players. We can lead by example here and create something really special.”
Velocity has been created in conjunction with partners Ignite Sport UK and Oxford City, who have been delivering education programmes for almost 20 years. Velocity will deliver separate full-time programmes for males and females.
Students will have the unique chance to join the football club’s academy, in addition to receiving wider development via coaching modules, academic education, and work experience within the football club. Education is delivered via face to face teaching with additional support provided by education partners Virtual Learning UK.