The Football Exchange Women’s Network

Our members

Sport and performance psychology:

Sport and performance psychology:

Fionnuala Barnes

Football exchange networkName: Fionnuala Barnes

Current job title: Academy Performance Support Psychologist at Manchester United Football Club.

Affiliation with LJMU: Current student on the Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology (2019-2023).

Any professional accreditations: Trainee Sport and Exercise Psychologist (or Sport and Exercise Psychologist in Training) on the BPS accredited and HCPC approved Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology. UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Accredited Anti-Doping Advisor. Graduate member of the British Psychological Society (MPBsS).

My working day: Each week at the club brings its own unique opportunities for the development of, engagement in, and support to create an environment where the young boys can be the best they can be. A typical day for me involves beginning with the sharing of updates and developments through a range of meetings with the coaching team, psychology team and wider performance team, before spending time planning or preparing for the physical training sessions. During the training sessions, we are likely to focus our attention on the deliberate integration of psychological components within the sessions, followed by coach discussions on key elements which have emerged.

Career high so far: Every day I pull on my kit and step into the trainers!

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Invest in knowing yourself, begin with showing curiosity to your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours; your own responses and reactions to both the expected and unexpected; the environments which leverage your strengths; and the projects which give you energy. Spend time connecting with how you want to be as a person and a practitioner, and how you want to make others feel in your day-to-day conversations and behaviours. A paradox to what we are so accustomed to in sport, there is no rule book, guidelines, or a right way in building your path or your dreams, but getting curious with yourself is a great place to start.

Dr Francesca Champ

Fran ChampName: Dr Francesca Champ

LJMU staff

Current Job Title: Lecturer in Psychology of Football, Liverpool John Moores University

Affiliation with LJMU: Member of academic staff (2020-present), Match-funded Sport Psychology PhD student (2014-2017), MSc Sport Psychology (2013-3014), BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science (2010-2013).

Any professional Accreditations: British Association of Sport and Exercise (BASES) accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist (Psychology), Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

My working day: My applied research, teaching and consultancy primarily focuses on supporting the psychosocial development of elite male and female footballers through organisational and counselling psychology approaches, including a role as the first team performance psychologist for Liverpool Football Club Women’s.

Career high so far: Acquiring the Aspetar ‘Excellence in Football Research’ award at the European Congress of Sports Science in Vienna for my contribution to applied sport psychology in elite youth professional football. I was both the only female and the only candidate from the UK to be shortlisted for the award. As a PhD student, the opportunity to share the stage with senior academics from across the world was one that I will never forget.

Advice for next generation of female practitioners: This is a really tough one… (1) Don’t just hear what someone is saying… listen. (2) Be ambitious, be motivated and be flexible. This can be achieved by focusing on who you are and not the job you have. (3) Take the time to develop meaningful connections.

Dr Gillian Cook

Dr Gillian CookName: Dr Gillian Cook

LJMU staff

Current job title: Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University

Affiliation with LJMU: Current member of staff (2019-present). Teach across the undergraduate, postgraduate, professional doctorate and PhD degree programmes within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

Any professional accreditations: British Psychological Society (BPS) chartered and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist.

My working day: A great mix of high performance leadership research examining how effective leaders create the conditions for others to thrive and deliver optimal outcomes in high pressure environments, extensive undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and interactions with students and staff, student mentoring and supervision, and applied sport psychology consultancy work, including a role as club sport psychologist with the Scottish Premiership football team Dundee United FC. This includes work on high performance leadership with the first team manager, coaches, and players, match and training observation and feedback, work around the 5Cs of confidence, commitment, communication, control, and concentration, and work on positive organisational culture with the club and academy directors, managers and coaches, and senior players.

Career high so far: In 2018, I won the world-wide Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) Student Award for Excellence in Science Practitioner Endeavours for my PhD research entitled ‘Psychosocial Aspects of Coaching in Olympic Sport,’ and for my applied sport psychology consultancy work with a range of elite athletes, teams, and international organisations. AASP is the world’s largest sport and exercise psychology organisation, and this international award was presented by the President of AASP in Toronto, Canada.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: We’re in an age of gender-equality, and if you work hard, build your knowledge, and actively seek opportunities, you will succeed. 

Lauren Garner

Name: Lauren Garner

Current LJMU student

Current job title: Blackburn Rovers Academy Sport Psychologist

Affiliation with LJMU: Current student on the Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology (2021-2025). MSc Sport Psychology (2018-2020).

Professional accreditations: Sport and Exercise Psychologist in Training (SEPiT) on the BPS accredited and HCPC approved Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology.

My working day: One of the things I love most about my role is that I don’t have a ‘typical’ working day since I support so many people. As the head of psychology, some days are spent supporting a variety of players (U9s-U23s) through 1-1 support sessions or group workshops based on their current needs. Other days I may be working with coaches and other support staff or hosting departmental CPD sessions to develop a psychologically informed environment within which all staff operate. I also spend much time working with parents, whether this be educational workshops or guidance on how they may best support their sons. On really busy days, I could be doing all of the above!

Career high so far: The biggest high of my career thus far is securing employment as an academy sport psychologist with Blackburn Rovers FC and taking over as head of psychology.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Trust the process!! Sometimes you will feel like an imposter, other times you will recognise just how far you have come. You’ll bounce between the two regularly, but the pieces will slowly start to fall into place. You know more than you think you do. I’d also recommend spending a significant amount of time defining your philosophy of practice but always keep in mind that this will evolve and change over the span of your career; you’re never a finished product.

Professor Zoe Knowles

Name: Professor Zoe Knowles 

LJMU Staff 

Current Job Title: Professor of Engagement and Learning (0.95FTE) , Chair of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Affiliation with LJMU: Alumni then a staff member

Professional Accreditations: HCPC Registered Practitioner Psychologist, BASES Fellow

My working day: I have a varied portfolio of work leading on External Engagement for the School of Sport and Exercise, supporting early career practitioners in applied roles including football settings, working with elite athletes, conducting research exploring psychosocial aspects of sport and exercise, teaching and external work for British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Career high so far: My Professorial Lecture in which I outlined a number of firsts and challenged others to find theirs and not be a tree! Take a look here LJMU Professorial lectures | Liverpool John Moores University 

Advice for next generation of female practitioners: If you receive support and opportunity along the way in your career – pay that forward to others. This is particularly important for females in under represented areas of the sector.

Kristin Minister

Kristin MinisterName: Kristin Minister

Current LJMU student

Job title: Professional Doctorate Candidate at Liverpool John Moores University, Director at KM Sport Psychology, Senior Research Assistant at University of South Wales.

Affiliation with LJMU: Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology.

My professional accreditations: Trainee Sport and Exercise Psychologist (or Sport and Exercise Psychologist in Training) on the BPS accredited and HCPC approved Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology.

My working day: As a researcher/consultant, my schedule is quite random! I usually split my days between conducting research and working on a holistic level with clients. My research role at USW focuses on the impact of COVID on the mental health of elite athletes, while my research affiliated with LJMU focuses on mental health in football and the experiences and development of women within sport.

Career high so far: There a few “big” moments, but for me the best moments are in sessions where something “clicks” for the client; it’s always great to see the athlete put something together which often propels them toward positive change - whether this is better performance, taking control over something important, and so on.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Stand up for yourself, and be yourself! These seem like simple concepts, but can be difficult to apply. As trainee sport psychologists, we are always looking to apply best practice to every situation; this combined with working within male-dominated environments can make it difficult to be vocal when you feel you are being undervalued. Don’t hide parts of yourself, as we often try to do - if you have an awkward sense of humour, anything that you think may make you stand out “too much” - lean into it! You’ll be a better practitioner for it.

Dr Lisa O’Halloran

Name: Dr. Lisa O'Halloran

Current job title: Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Nottingham Trent University and Sport Psychologist at Coventry City FC.

Affiliation with LJMU: I studied BSc Applied Psychology with Sport Science (2006-2009), MSc Sport Psychology (2009-2010) and PhD Sport Psychology (part-time) (2011-2019) at LJMU.

Any professional accreditations: British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist (Psychology) with Chartered Scientist (CSci) status, Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist.

My working day: My role as a lecturer involves lots of teaching, course content design and delivery, project supervision, meetings with staff and students and engaging in research. I also provide sport psychology support to our elite scholars. My role as sport psychologist at CCFC involves delivering educational workshops to the First Team and U23s, as well as providing 1:1 support to the players at the training ground.

Career high so far: This would have to be being a part of the sport science and medicine team at CCFC when we gained promotion to the Championship!

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Find a mentor in the field who you can trust, share experiences with and learn from. You can learn a lot vicariously and wisdom and experiential knowledge can be passed on.

Dr Laura Swettenham

Laura Swettenham

Name: Dr. Laura Swettenham

Current LJMU student

Current job title: Performance Psychologist at Blackburn Rovers Academy

Affiliation with LJMU- MSc. Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology (2017), Professional Doctorate Sport and Exercise Psychology (expected 2021).

Any professional accreditations: Trainee Sport and Exercise Psychologist (or Sport and Exercise Psychologist in Training) on the BPS accredited and HCPC approved Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology’.

My working day: My days at the academy are always varied, which is one of the reasons I love the job so much. If I had to describe a typical day, it would start with observing training sessions and catching up with coaches and staff members. Later in the day, I may plan or deliver workshops and 1-1 consultancies focusing on performance enhancement and wellbeing. Of course, not forgetting the odd break for a game of ping pong!

Career high so far: The phone call to tell me I had been offered the role at Blackburn. I feel that this was the true start to my journey as a practitioner as I have learnt so much from everyone at the academy.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Always put your name in the hat when opportunities arise, you never know what will happen! You have more skills and knowledge than you think, and what you don’t know you can learn on the job by modelling curiosity and vulnerability.

Alice Stratford

Alice StratfordName: Alice Stratford

Current LJMU student.

Current job title: Performance Psychologist at Everton FC Womens (1st Team & U20s).  (Also Lead Psychology and Lifestyle Co-Ordinator for TASS & LJMU).

Affiliation with LJMU: BSc Applied Sport Psychology (2012-2015), MSc Sport Psychology (2016-2017), PhD Researcher and Teaching Support Officer (2018 - present).

Any professional accreditations: Stage 2 candidate for British Psychological Society (BPS) Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology (DSEP) chartership and graduate member (MPBsS), UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Accredited Anti-Doping Advisor.

My working day: A usual working day involves checking in with all staff members before the players arrive to training, this allows us to discuss any player updates and go through the plan of the sessions. Before arrival each player will have filled out a ‘Wellness Form’ so I will make time to look through each of these and make a note of whether any player is feeling low in mood, or more fatigued than normal. This helps me to know which players I need to check in with throughout the course of the training session. All staff and players then attend breakfast together, if I have a group meeting with the players this will happen immediately after breakfast.  The players then head out for training and gym. After training everyone has lunch and I have another opportunity to catch up with players individually before they go home. Once the players head home I catch up on meeting notes, plan any player meetings or interventions for the next few days and catch up with the multi-disciplinary staff team. On days when I work with the U20’s I head to their training sessions in the late afternoon and catch up with players/hold player workshops after they finish training.

Career high so far: Securing a full-time job working as a psychologist in women’s football, something which I have worked towards for a number of years and am incredibly proud to have achieved this early in my career.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Know what your preferred style of working is, both individually with athletes and in a multi-disciplinary team. The best work that you do with athletes always happens when you work authentically, doing this will enable you to develop far more meaningful relationships but will also allow you to truly enjoy the work that you do.

Freddie Turner

Freddie TurnerName: Freddie Turner

Current LJMU student

Current job title: Performance Psychologist working with Liverpool F.C. Women’s Regional Talent Club.

Affiliation with LJMU: BSc Applied Sport Psychology (2015-2018), MSc Sport Psychology (2018-2019), Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology (2020-2024).

Any professional accreditations: Trainee Sport and Exercise Psychologist (or Sport and Exercise Psychologist in Training) on the BPS accredited and HCPC approved Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology’.

My working day: My role involves providing holistic psychological support for the players, parents and coaches within the foundation phase and youth development phase of the regional talent club.

Career high so far: Visiting the French Football Federation’s training facilities at Clairefonatine with the LJMU BSc Science and Football cohort in 2019. This provided a unique insight into how world-leading sport science practitioners and coaches collaborate to optimise performance.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Connect with other practitioners and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your development as a practitioner will be unique but that does not mean that you have to ‘go it alone’. Many of those who I sit alongside in this article have been generous with their time; in sharing their knowledge and experiences of working in football and in supporting me as I navigate my own role within football. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them, and I can’t thank them enough.

Dr Amy Whitehead

Name: Dr Amy Whitehead 

LJMU staff

Current job title: Reader in Sport Psychology and Coaching, Liverpool John Moores University.

Affiliation with LJMU: Member of academic staff (2015-present). Teach across the Sport Coaching, Physical Education and Sport Psychology programmes.

Any professional accreditations: British Psychological Society (BPS) chartered and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist, British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) SEPAR Supervisor.

My working day: Teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students across various sport coaching and sport psychology disciplines. Researching and consulting with national governing bodies, various sports organisations and individual athletes. More specifically in football I work as a sport psychology consultant and a coach developer. I have conducted coach development and mentor development work for the Football Association (FA).

Career high so far: Delivering a ‘Think Aloud’ reflection programme for the FA and 400 coach mentors.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Don't limit yourself.

Performance nutrition:

Performance nutrition:

Hannah Mayho

Hannah MayhoName: Hannah Mayho

Alumni

Current job title: Lead Academy Nutritionist

Affiliation with LJMU: MSc Sports Nutrition (2017-2018).

Any professional accreditations: Registered Dieitian, Registered Nutritionist on the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr), International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) Level 1 qualified.

My working day: My work is really varied and no one day is ever the same! For example, the role can involve match day support, group education, 1-2-1 consultations involving players and sometimes parents or house parents too, or taking body composition measurements. I work closely with the sport science, medical and catering teams and as the role is split between the Women’s First Team and Academy, time management is key.

Career high so far: Getting the role with Manchester City Academy and MCWFC.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Always be professional, work smart and be resilient.

Match and performance analysis:

Match and performance analysis:

Dr Naomi Datson

Naomi DatsonName: Dr. Naomi Datson

Alumni

Current Job Title: Reader in Sports Performance at the University of Chichester and Consultant Sport Scientist

Affiliation with LJMU: I studied for my BSc (Hons) Sport Science (physiology) (2000-2003), MRes (date -2006), and PhD (date - 2016) at Liverpool John Moores University.

Any professional accreditations: British Association of Sport and Exercise (BASES) accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist (Physiology).

Working day: As a lecturer, my job involves working with students from across the Institute of Sport and teaching them about the theory behind performance analysis as well as how to use different pieces of analysis software to help develop their practical skills. I also work as a consultant sport scientist for clubs and organisations within women’s football and in this role I get to do lots of different things; from working with players and coaches, to analysis performance data or completing specific research projects.

Career high so far: My career high so far was working as the sport scientist with the Team GB Women’s football team at the London 2012 Olympics. Standing on the pitch at the end of the match when a crowd of 70,000 plus had watched us beat Brazil 1-0 was something I will never forget.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: It is hard to narrow it down to just one piece of advice….but….I think it is important to make meaningful connections with people. Don’t just ‘network’ but instead actually spend time getting to know people and forging strong professional relationships.

Dr Sigrid Olthof

Sigrid OlthofName: Dr. Sigrid Olthof

LJMU staff

Current Job Title: Lecturer in Performance Analysis and Analytics at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University

Affiliation with LJMU: Member of academic staff (2020-date). I deliver lectures about performance analysis in the Science & Football and Sport Coaching programs. As part of the Football Exchange, I research performance in football from an individual up to a team level.

My working day: My interests in football research and questions from the football field are integrated in my day-to-day activities. With performance analysis as the main topic. I also like to work with sport technology and data, so you will also see me working in a ‘field lab’ with wearable technology or behind my laptop coding and analyzing data.

The interaction between research and practice is fascinating. I enjoy to explore and unravel the dynamics and complexity of football, and I also love working in the faster pace that the sport environment demands. Questions from practitioners are leading for my studies in football performance. Simultaneously, my aim is to update students and the practical field with the latest scientific insights. A practical example is that I provided small-sided games that are scientifically supported for football training programs.

Career high so far: The youth academy of FC Groningen (the Netherlands) applied the concepts of the small-sided games from my PhD thesis in its program and even designed a training field at its training ground, literally along the lines of my research. During one of the practices, we have recorded and captured video footage of these games with a drone 70 meters up in the air. That was literally a career high.

Advice for next generation of female practitioners: Be a team player just like the game of football is a team sport. Trust your unique skill set and contribute to the organization. Trust others in their skills and also work together with the people around you or in similar positions in order to learn from them by asking questions.

Physiology of preparation and performance:

Physiology of preparation and performance:

Emily Cain

Emily CainName: Emily Cain

Alumni

Current job title: Physical Performance Coach at the Football Association (FA).

Affiliation with LJMU: Current PhD Researcher in Sport and Exercise Science (expected 2021). Project is sponsored by the Football Association (FA).

Any professional accreditations: United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) Accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach.

My working day:  Every day is different! On-camp days have a general flow; morning check-in with the players, breakfast, player meeting, lunch, training/match, recovery, dinner and a staff meeting. Off-camp I either have university days or FA days. University days include data analysis, reading and writing, and FA days usually consist of meetings such as camp reviews and planning. 

Career high so far: Wearing the Three Lions badge to represent and support my country on an international stage is an honour every time, however my highlight would definitely be going to the European Championship Finals in Glasgow with the England Women's U19 team in 2019.  In addition to this, for the 2016/17 season I moved to Hong Kong to take a job as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Women's Lacrosse National Team in preparation for the 2017 FIL World Cup. It was an incredible year both professionally and personally and I would definitely recommend working abroad to anyone who gets the chance!  

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Be yourself! You don't need to act like 'one of the lads' to fit in in a male dominated environment.

Erin Robertson

Erin Robertson

Name: Erin Robertson
Current job title: Academy Physical Performance Coach at Dundee United Football Club.

Affiliation with LJMU: Professional Doctorate in Applied Sport & Exercise Science.

My working day: Everyday in football is different, which is one of the main reason I love my job. I'm responsible for carrying out field and gym based strength and conditioning sessions for age groups U10-U18 which are either individualised or team based. I'm also responsible for creating short and long-term training programmes, conducting regular fitness testing. It is interesting to be able to work with a variety of age groups as it challenges my ability as a practitioner to adapt and programme sessions specific to each age group’s ability.

Career high so far: Acceptance onto my Professional Doctorate course with LJMU. I felt that this was the start of my professional career as an applied practitioner.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Persistence and don't give up.

Other members:

Other members:

Lizzie Craven

Lizzie CravenName: Lizzie Craven

Current LJMU student

Job title:Second year undergraduate student, Footballer at Manchester City (Goalkeeper) and FA Universities Women’s Leadership Programme candidate

Affiliation with LJMU: BSc (Hons) Science and Football (2019-2022)

My working day: My day typically consists of lectures, seminars and study. Usually 5 days a week training at the City Football Academy in Manchester, during evenings, days and weekends. This sometimes includes travelling long distances to away matches such as Brighton, Bristol and London. In addition to my dual role as a student athlete I am currently engaging in match and performance analysis within women’s football.

Career high so far: Representing both Everton and Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup. I’m also proud to have trained with male and female professional footballers right up to senior internationals.

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Don’t be put off by negative opinions and being the only female. Be proud and know there are other people just like you out there. Trust your own knowledge and skills and always ask questions to further your knowledge and understanding.

Dr Kathryn Curran

Dr Kathryn CurranName: Dr Kathryn Curran

LJMU staff

Current Job Title: Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity and Nutrition, Liverpool John Moores University. Non-Executive Director of the European Healthy Stadia Network.

Affiliation with LJMU: Member of academic staff (2018-present) and former practitioner/PhD student (2009-2013) in partnership with Everton in the Community.

Any professional accreditations: Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

My working day: My applied research, teaching and consultancy focuses primarily on the design, implementation and evaluation of football for health interventions, and the use of sport stadia as health-promoting environments.

Career high so far: Working closely with the wonderful team at the European Healthy Stadia Network and being appointed as a Non-Executive Director of the organisation. This role allows me to combine academia with my passion for the Healthy Stadia agenda.

Advice for next generation of female practitioners: Be honest with yourself in relation to your strengths and weaknesses. Flag up what you know you need to gain some development/advice in and make a plan. Doing this early on means you can grow in confidence sooner rather than later.

Ellie Fox

Ellie FoxName: Ellie Fox

Current LJMU student

Current job title: MSc Sport Psychology student and a Womens' Refugee and Asylum Seeker volunteering coach

Affiliation with LJMU: BSc (Hons) Applied Sport Psychology (2018-2021), MSc Sport Psychology (2021-22)

Any professional accreditations: Level 1 Football Safeguarding Course, VIZRT Level 1 Football Telestration Course

My working day: In summer 2021 I completed my three year BSc Applied Sport Psychology degree with a 1st class honours. I have continued my journey at LJMU to now study a MSc in Sport Psychology for one year. For my MSc dissertation I have teamed up with and external organisation (Just in Casey project) to study the menstrual cycle in women's football. In October I proudly graduated from the FA Women's leadership course. I am currently volunteering with the FA regional Youth Council, where we collaborate with the FA National Youth Council and support their vision to ensure all young people have meaningful opportunities to develop themselves and positively influences the football community. Alongside this opportunity, I am also involved in the LGBTQ+: Pride to Purpose Educational Series and Mentor Programme Focus group in order to help develop new programmes.

Career high so far: Being able to work alongside some fantastic women participating in football and learning their backgrounds and cultures, sharing my passion of football with them to help build good rapport and subsequently observing their progression on the “She Inspire” programme.

Advice for next generation of female practitioners:

Do what you love and follow your dreams. Grab every opportunity that comes your way. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. Have confidence in yourself and that all that matter. Don’t let other’s opinion’s get you down and remember football is for everyone.

Yasmin Saeed

Yasmin SaeedName: Yasmin Saeed

Alumni

Current job title: MSc Sport Psychology Student at Liverpool John Moores University, Match Official at The FA. 

Affiliation with LJMU: BSc Applied Sport Psychology (2016-2019), MSc Sport Psychology (2019-2020).

My working day: Every day involves physical and technical training, weekends involve Officiating within the Semi-Professional (Male) and Professional (Female) game.

Career high so far: Achieving my Level 3 (Semi-Professional level) at the age of 20.  

Advice for the next generation of female practitioners: Work hard, never give up and the rewards will come.