Manisha Tailor breaks new ground with promotion at QPR
Written by Simon Austin — June 20, 2021
MANISHA TAILOR has been promoted to Assistant Head of Coaching at QPR, making her the first woman and first person of South Asian heritage to hold such a role in the English game.
The 40-year-old, who has been Lead Foundation Phase Coach at QPR for the last three years, will now assist Head of Coaching Chris Ramsey, who has been her mentor for the last five years.
"As a woman - and a South Asian woman in particular - I do think this is extraordinary and it wouldn't have been possible without the mentoring and guidance I've received from Chris," Tailor told TGG.
"He gave me the platform to show what I could become. This shows it is possible for people from diverse backgrounds to progress to jobs like these, but you need mentoring, guidance and opportunity."
Tailor said her job would be to work with the Under-9s to U16s and "help disseminate and enforce" the Academy coaching philosophy laid down by Ramsey.
“Chris sets the programmes, oversees the coach education and is responsible for helping to get our very best Academy players into the first team," she said. "I'll be on the grass, with the coaches, reinforcing that."
Her promotion is the latest chapter in a remarkable story. Until 2011, Tailor was Deputy Head at Cowley St Laurence Primary School in Uxbridge, but then left her career in education to help care for her twin brother Mayur, who had developed a severe mental illness that left him unable to speak.
It was former England international Rachel Yankey who encouraged her to pursue a passion for football coaching by taking her badges and volunteering in grassroots. And then Ramsey has been a major influence ever since they met at a diversity and equality event at St George's Park in 2014.
They reconnected in February 2016, by which time Tailor had gained her Uefa B Licence and was Manager of Middlesex Girls' Centre of Excellence. She asked Ramsey how to get involved in the professional game and he said "get time on the grass to learn your trade."
"He was quite honest in saying there weren't any available roles at QPR," Tailor remembered, "but he allowed me to come in and observe and volunteer at the Academy.
"I used to get in at 10am, watch all the different age groups, watch the gym sessions, and then go in for the schoolboys in the evenings. That was three times a week for four months, so about 180 hours in total.”
In 2016, Tailor was given a part-time job with the U9s, while earning money outside football by supply teaching and tutoring. She had also set up her own business, Swaggarlicious, which uses "the power of football and education to engage with diverse community groups and organisations."
In 2017, she was awarded an MBE for 'Services to Football and Diversity in Sport.'
Another big break came in the Autumn of 2018, when she was appointed as QPR's Lead Foundation Phase Coach, as well as being put forward for the Premier League's Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme (ECAS) by Ramsey and Academy Manager Alex Carroll. ECAS is a two-year programme designed to "accelerate the learning and development of coaches with the potential to become elite Academy coaches."
Tailor then started her A Licence in June 2020 and began as Assistant Head of Coaching last Monday.
"I am at a great club that has a staff that is truly representative of its demographic, but there have still been challenges, particularly around me as a woman," Tailor said. "I’ve been lucky to have people like Chris and Alex to go to for support though.
"As a club, we want to change the landscape. (Technical Director) Les Ferdinand and the owners here are very forward thinking. Role models are important and sometimes you have to step forward and become that role model.
"You don’t need to be the finished article - you need to look at what someone can become."
In March 2019, we wrote about the six women changing the face of Academy coaching. These were the only female coaches working full-time in men's Academy football. This is where they were and where they now are:
- Manisha Tailor: WAS - Foundation Phase Lead at QPR. NOW - Assistant Head of Coaching at QPR.
- Sarah Lowden: WAS - Reading U12s coach. NOW - Regional Coach Development Officer at The FA.
- Claire Lynne Smith: WAS - U11s coach at Stoke. NOW - first-team coach with Stoke City Women.
- Natalie Henderson: WAS - Newcastle United U12s coach. NOW - Lead YDP coach at Newcastle.
- Nia Davies: WAS - Swansea City Foundation Phase coach. Now FAW Trust Age Group Manager.
- Shelley Strange: WAS - U11s lead at Reading. NOW - same role.