Essex FA Girls’ Centre of Excellence

Newly-appointed Essex FA Female Centre of Excellence Manager / Coordinator, Sharon Brownlie, looks forward to an exciting season for girls’ football participation.

Players and staff are all in place at the Essex County FA’s brand new Female Centre of Excellence, now a Goalkeeping Coach is all that’s needed to complete the set.

The Essex FA were recently awarded one of 31 exclusive Female Centre of Excellence (COE) Licenses by The FA and have since been busily filling the coaching, coordination and sports therapy positions, as well as staging two rounds of player trials.

The centre will accommodate nearly 80 players aged 7-17, whose skills and development will be challenged against other centres within the South-East, including Arsenal, Chelsea and Norwich City.

Players recently had the opportunity to take part in trials at Shrub End Sports & Community Centre in Colchester. The programme forms part of a pathway for exceptional talents, with 22 games observed by FA national scouts each year. Elite players can progress through to Regional Elite Performance Camps and England training camps.

Sharon was delighted with the trial process and the standard of the players on show. “We had an incredible response, with over 170 girls taking part across the two trial dates,” she revealed. “We were extremely pleased with the outcome of both trials. We’ve put together an excellent team of staff who will help to develop them as players.”

“Six members of our coaching staff are FA Tesco Skills Coaches, our U-17s Head Coach Kate Longhurst is an England U-23 international and WSL player with Chelsea, and our Technical Director Steve Downey brings a wealth of experience and is also an FA Level One tutor. There is one position remaining – that’s the Goalkeeping Coach role – and we’re inviting potential candidates to submit applications immediately.”

Meanwhile, the players who were unsuccessful have been encouraged to attend the trials which are taking place for Essex’s Player Development Centre (PDC) on Friday 6th September at 4:30pm. The PDC, also administered by the Essex County FA, features Under 15s, 13s and 11s age groups and is based at Shenfield High School’s third generation pitch.

The 20-week training programme works closely with clubs and schools with the overall aim of bridging the gap between grassroots football and COEs as players still represent, and train with, their own clubs as well as receiving the additional support of PDC coaches. Sharon, a former County FA Development Officer who now undertakes a Female Academy role with Barking Abbey School, can’t wait for 2013/14.

She explained: “We’ll be looking to link the Centre of Excellence with the Player Development Centre, as much as possible. This will include player recommendations as well as COE staff visiting the PDC to deliver in-service events to the players and coaches. We’ve already seen the positive link between the two, with 33 PDC players attending COE trials and, of the 33, six have been offered a place within the COE. It’s all very exciting!”

Anyone wishing to apply for the Goalkeeping Coach role should E-Mail or call (07921) 855 987. A two-page CV and covering letter needs to be received as soon as possible, detailing why you feel you would be suitable for the role. A Personal Specification can be found at For information on Player Development Centre trials, E-Mail or call (01245) 393073.

Female Centre of Excellence – Coaching Team
Centre Manager/Coordinator – Sharon Brownlie
Technical Director – Steve Downey
Under 17s Head Coach – Kate Longhurst
Under 17s Assistant Coach – Zoe Rushen
Under 15s Head Coach – Ian Bent
Under 15s Assistant Coach – Nikita Runnacles
Under 13s Head Coach – Rosi Webb
Under 13s Assistant Coach – Paige Shorten
Under 11s Head Coach – Emma Manning
Under 11s Assistant Coach – Charlotte O’Malley
Under 9s Head Coach – Simon King
Under 9s Assistant Coach – Kelly Walker
Physiotherapist/Sports Therapist – Holly Straw

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