A brand-new initiative to help build women’s coaching capacity across the Commonwealth will see 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. The Women’s Coaching Internship Programme (WCIP) is 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 XXI Commonwealth Games, starting next week on Australia’s Gold Coast, are the most gender-equal in Commonwealth sporting history.

The programme has been overseen by CGF Vice-President Bruce Robertson, who commented: “We were delighted to be able to develop the sports programme for Gold Coast 2018 to ensure that women and men competed for an equal number of Commonwealth medals for the first-time ever at a major multi-sports event. However, the Commonwealth Games Federation also sees Women’s Coaching as a vital component of our Gender Equality Strategy. To achieve gender equality in Team Coaching Staff at the Games, women coaches must be provided with opportunities to coach and gain international experience.”

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 quota positions were earmarked specifically for coach interns that CGAs could apply for over and above their 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. The interns will stay in the Games Village and begin duties on 5 April.

Canadian Jill Perry is Head Coach at Beaver Boxing Club and Senior Marketing Manager for a technology firm in Ottawa and will be mentored by Boxing Canada’s High Performance Director Daniel Trépanier. Jill said: “I am eager and excited to be part of the Women’s Coaching Internship Programme. The CGF’s investment in this programme is validation that women coaches matter and is acknowledgement that gender equality issues need to be addressed. I want to be the best coach I can be, and this experience is going to help me be just that. I am delighted the Commonwealth is taking a lead on this in international sport.”

Nico Coetzee, Head Coach of the South Africa Wrestling Federation will be mentoring former Commonwealth medallist Mpho Madi. Nico said: “Mpho Madi was one of my athletes and is a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist. She is qualifying as a coach and administrator and I want to assist her where I can because long-term development includes lifelong development. I want her to have a good understanding of high performance preparation and planning and practical coaching experience. Some opportunities come only once in a lifetime; I am honoured to be a Commonwealth Games coach for the third time, to be a part of something special, and to play a role on the lives of young people.”

The participants for the inaugural WCIP (with links to their biographies and interviews) are:

  • Botswana: Grace Mmolai (Boxing) mentored by Luza Lechedzani;
  • Canada: Martine Drugenier (Wrestling) mentored by Tonya Verbeek; Tina Hoeben (Swimming) mentored by Martyn Wilby; Jill Perry (Boxing) mentored by Daniel Trepanier;
  • England: Amanda Booth (Swimming) mentored by Grant Robins; Evangeline Collier (Table Tennis) mentored by Alan Cooke;
  • Kenya: Sheila Gakii (Badminton) mentored by John Odhiambo; Carolyne Anyango Kola (Athletics) mentored by John Anzra;
  • Malaysia: Nik Lini Hayati binti Nike Kazim (Triathlon) mentored by Peter Lau; Bah Chuh Mei (Lawn Bowls) mentored by Zuraidi Puteh;
  • Mauritius: Isabelle Andre (Table Tennis) mentored by Sahajasein Aladd;
  • Mozambique: Soraya Santos (Swimming) mentored by Orlando Dingane;
  • New Zealand: Victoria Grant (Rugby Sevens) mentored by Stu Ross; Amanda Murphy (Athletics) mentored by Dale Stevenson; Cordelia Norris (Diving) mentored by Steve Gladding;
  • Northern Ireland: Laura Kerr (Athletics) mentored  by Jackie Newton;
  • South Africa: Dumisane Chauke (Netball) mentored by Norma Plummer; Mpho Madi (Wrestling) mentored by Nico Coetzee; and
  • Uganda: Gamba Mildred (Athletics) mentored by Nalis Bigingo.

In addition to ongoing mentoring support and practical experience at Gold Coast 2018, the Women Coach Interns will also participate in regular information sessions, including presentations from established women coaches who will share their stories in “From the field” sessions. The WCIP will also benefit from support, expertise and attendance at Global Coaches House, a networking and knowledge-sharing partnership between the CGF and ICCE (International Centre for Coaching Excellence); AIS (Australian Institute of Sport), Commonwealth Games Australia and Griffith University.