Women

The Football Exchange Women’s Network

Our members

Sport and performance psychology:

Dr Amy Whitehead

Amy WhiteheadName: 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.

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).

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. 

Dr Lisa O’Halloran

Lisa OHalloranName: Dr. Lisa O'Halloran

Current job title: Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Coventry 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.

Kristin Minister

Kristin MinisterName: Kristin Minister

Current LJMU student

Job Title: Professional Doctorate Candidate at Liverpool John Moores University, Director at KM Sport Psychology, Consultant at Crewe Alexandra FC (Academy).

Affiliation with LJMU: Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology (expected 2022).

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 interviews or data analysis, working within a club, or with individual clients.

Career High So Far: This is a difficult one! There are of course 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. It’s just as important to be yourself. As an American working in English football, anyone could spot from a mile away that the vernacular doesn’t come naturally to me, and I didn’t come in with years of prior knowledge about football culture. I was quite insecure about this and tried to hide it, but eventually realised this can be a strength - clients tend to explain more to me, which works well with my philosophy of practice. 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.

Laura Swettenham

Laura SwettenhamName: 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: Currently completing a funded practitioner-researcher PhD at LJMU exploring transitions in Women’s football, funding is provided by the Football Association. As part of my practitioner-researcher role, I provide lifestyle and psychological support to academy players and Liverpool Football Club Women’s Academy.

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. When the players arrive, they usually attend a session with our education lead, which I support. Each U21 player is enrolled onto a sporting diploma which allows them to gain extra UCAS points. Once a month I conduct a psychology workshop which all players and staff attend, the topic of which is decided based on observations and discussion had with players and staff in the month prior. When needed I provide one to one support with the players, which can cover a range of issues both related and unrelated to their footballing journey.

Career high so far: Attending my first international conference in Germany (FEPSAC, 2019). I learned so much about both research and applied sport psychology, and was able to interact and spend time with some of the people who have inspired me the most. Working with the Women’s U21s team who won the Academy League and Cup in the 2018/19 season. The team worked incredibly hard throughout the season and it was a pleasure to be able to see those efforts be rewarded.

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.

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:

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.

Naomi Datson

Naomi DatsonName: Naomi Datson

Alumni

Current Job Title: Senior Lecturer in Sports Performance Analysis 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 analysisg 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.

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.

Other members:

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.

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: Final year undergraduate student and FA Universities Women’s Leadership Programme candidate

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

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

My working day: Currently engage in voluntary work with a variety of women from different backgrounds and cultures to encourage participation in recreational football as part of the FA Universities Women’s Leadership Programme. Prior to this, I worked with stakeholders at Liverpool county FA to analyse and collect data for their women’s participant program ‘She Inspires’.

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!

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.

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.