Mitchell to replace Grange as England psychology lead
Written by Simon Austin — November 8, 2019
IAN MITCHELL is set to head up psychological development across the 16 England teams following the departure of Pippa Grange as Head of People and Team Development in September, TGG understands.
Grange, who was appointed by the FA in November 2017, left in the middle of September following differences of opinion with her bosses at the organisation.
Mitchell joined as Products, Research and Partners Lead in February 2018 and reported into Grange. The Welshman was responsible for “oversight of partners, research and accelerated learning projects,” and, from March this year, worked with the men’s senior team on the “cultural and psychological development” of their coaches and players.
This had previously been Grange’s role - and one she fulfilled at the 2018 World Cup - before she was pulled away from front-line duties. While her conceptual knowledge was regarded as being excellent, FA bosses decided she had not formed close enough relationships with the team's coaching staff.
TGG has approached Grange for a comment but is yet to receive a response. While Grange's former role is being filled by Mitchell, there will not be any additions to replace her on the headcount, TGG understands.
Former consultant Grange was widely credited with helping England overcome their penalty hoodoo by beating Colombia on spot kicks in the second round of the World Cup, and aiding the positive and open atmosphere in the camp.
There was friction when Grange asked for permission to write a book shortly after the World Cup. This was turned down by FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn, who argued it could compromise her position.
Since Grange’s departure, the rights to the book, Fear Less: How to Win at Life, Without Losing Yourself, have been bought by Ebury, with publication slated for March 2020.
Grange was appointed by the FA following a global search in November 2017 and formally began her role the following January. Previously, the England teams had used management consultants Lane4 for psychology and culture support.
Before joining the FA, Grange had worked in the AFL, rugby league and with the Australian Olympic team before setting up her own sports consultancy, Bluestone Edge. She has a doctorate in applied psychology and was formerly a women’s basketball player in the National League.
At the time of her appointment, she said: “I’m excited to be joining the FA at such a pivotal time in the journey and humbled by the opportunity to contribute to a forward-thinking and determined organisation.”
England Head of Team Strategy and Performance Dave Reddin added: "We truly searched the world to find the best person for this vital role and I'm confident Pippa's extensive experience in sports as diverse as swimming, rugby league, AFL and netball, as well as high-performing business environments, will help take us to the next level.”
Mitchell was a key member of Chris Coleman’s Wales staff at Euro 2016, when the team reached the semi-finals, and worked as a performance psychologist for Swansea City between 2014 and 2016. He also held senior roles during 17 years with Cardiff Metropolitan University.