A brand-new initiative to help build women’s coaching capacity across the Commonwealth saw 19 women coaches from 11 countries across 12 sports participate in a ground-breaking programme of mentoring, learning and on-the-ground training at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. 

With strong evidence of positive outcomes – such as increased coaching opportunities, skills development and career progression - the Commonwealth Games Federation announces, in time for International Women’s Day, that the Women’s Coaching Internship Programme (WCIP) will continue, with plans to roll out the ground-breaking initiative at future editions of the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games.

Widely praised as the “Games of Firsts” – which saw men and women compete at Gold Coast 2018 for an equal number of medals for the first time ever at a global multi-sport event – the mentoring programme was an important part of the Commonwealth Games Federation’s (CGF) sports industry-leading Gender Equality Strategy, contributing to the shared ambitions of the CGF and Games organisers to ensure that the 2018 Commonwealth Games were the most gender-equal in Commonwealth sporting history.

CGF President Dame Louise Martin said: “Our decision to develop the sports programme for Gold Coast 2018 to close the medal gap for women was a global sporting first – making sure men and women competed for an equal number of Commonwealth medals for the first-time ever at a major multi-sports event. However, we also identified Women’s Coaching as a vital component of our Gender Equality Strategy. 

To help achieve gender equality in Team Coaching Staff at the Games, we recognised that women coaches must be provided with more opportunities to coach and gain international experience. We now know that the Programme had a positive, and in some cases, transformative effect on participants – and we’re delighted to build on their experiences at future Games.”

South Africa’s Dumisane Chauke was a netball coach mentored by Norma Plummer at Gold Coast 2018 and has since been appointed as Head Coach of the South African under 20 netball team, and won the Health and Wellbeing Award at the South African Youth Awards in December 2018. She also picked up the President’s Award, awarded to the overall winner across all awards categories. Reflecting on her WCIP experience she said: “I learned that there are more women coaches just like me all over the world in their respective sporting codes and they are also going through the same challenges I go through in South Africa and in my chosen sport, netball.”

Since her Gold Coast 2018 experience Canadian Jill Perry, who was mentored by Boxing Canada’s High Performance Director Daniel Trépanier, has coached the 2018 Youth Continental Boxing Championships in Colorado Springs, USA; the 2018 National Team training camp in Puerto Rico and the 2018 Silesian Cup and training camp. Prior to the Commonwealth Games she had participated in one smaller National team event in 2014.  Jill said: “While I have gained many things from my experiences participating in the WCIP I think the number one thing the programme gave me was the confidence that I could be the coach I aspire to be, and that I am not alone in my struggles to gain valuable and relevant experience. I am very happy to report that my involvement with the WCIP at the Commonwealth Games has led to more opportunities to coach at a National and International level.”

Mildred Gamba from Uganda was mentored as an Athletics coach by Nalis Bigingo. After the Gold Coast, she was given an opportunity to do a basic coaching course, was then invited to participate in the Level 1 IAAF coaching course and now hopes to be invited from the regional development centre in Kenya for the Level 2 course, specialising in sprints and hurdles. She said: “More athletes are being referred to me for training in sprints after the Federation saw my work ethic and commitment as part of the coaching staff during the Commonwealth Games. In January this year, I was very proud to be named among the most influential women administrators in Uganda.”

Under the innovative programme, Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs), in partnership with one of their National Sports Organisations (NSOs), had the opportunity to fully integrate an aspiring female coach into their Gold Coast 2018 coaching team. A total of 20 Games positions were earmarked specifically for coach interns that CGAs could apply for in addition to their Gold Coast 2018 allocation for team officials. The participants selected to join the first-ever programme come from Botswana, Canada, England, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand.