Transforming the English coaching landscape: black women football coaches’ acts of resistance against racism and sexism

Beth G. Clarkson, Keith D. Parry, Rebecca Sawiuk, Laura Grubb, Emma Kavanagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Research question: We seek to understand how Black women coaches negotiate and resist problematic, confined social structures caused by Association football's embedded masculinised and racist culture. Through an intersectional lens, we ask what can we learn from Black women coaches’ lived experiences and acts of resistance, what motivates acts, and what personal effects do coaches experience following individual resistance acts?

Methodology: Nine coaches were interviewed. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings: Black women coaches negotiate dominant football culture by engaging in (1) transformative resistance to challenge institutional practices and afford opportunities, and (2) conformist resistance to amplify issues, resist microaggressions, and downplay their ethnic identity. Coaches’ acts of resistance were motivated by a need for safety, to promote women’s and ethnic minorities’ interests, to challenge white privilege, and to (re)educate. These acts led to increased or diminished empowerment depending on their reception. Coaches reported positive organisational changes but also relationship conflict (e.g. were perceived as difficult).

Practical implications: Compelling personal stories provide football associations with actionable areas to ensure football is more equitable and inclusive.

Research contribution: We provide the first working model of coaches’ individual acts of resistance through sharing new insights into how gender and race intersect to restrain Black women coaches’ football participation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalManaging Sport and Leisure
Early online date24 Nov 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 24 Nov 2022


  • Women coaches
  • football
  • Black coaches
  • racism
  • acts of resistance


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