27 women leading the way in men's football

Brentford's Lydia Bedford and Southampton's Natasha Patel

Brentford's Lydia Bedford and Southampton's Natasha Patel

NOW seemed like a good time to showcase the women who are playing leading roles in the men's game, in roles spanning executive, coaching, Academy, performance, medical and data science.

The 27 people profiled (there could have been more and apologies to anyone we've missed) are leaders in their fields and have made significant impact at their respective clubs and federations. Many have had to overcome the odds to get their breaks in the game, as you'll read below.

Several have featured in TGG podcasts, events and articles, which are linked out of their bios.


FOOTBALL EXECUTIVES

Director of Football Administration and Governance, Tottenham

Rebecca Caplehorn

Nationality: British

Highly valued and trusted by Chairman Daniel Levy. Has a background in accountancy and worked for at QPR for five years before joining Tottenham in March 2015. Moved from Head of Football Operations to this new role in September 2020. Job is to "lead, drive and embed football governance processes, contractual matters and best practice across the club."

ACADEMY LEADERSHIP

Academy Manager, Forest Green Rovers

Hannah Dingley

Nationality: British

The first female Academy Manager and first-team manager in English men's football. Coached in Africa and worked as a teacher before joining Burton Albion as Head of Coaching. Joined Forest Green in July 2019. You can read more about Dingley's story HERE.

Academy Manager: Operations, Wolves

Laura Nicholls

Nationality: British

Wolves made the innovation of splitting their Academy Manager role in two in 2021, with Jon Hunter-Barrett focusing on coaching and Nicholls on operations. Then Technical Director Scott Sellars told TGG: "We knew about Laura’s strengths from her time with the Wolves Foundation and she also has a lot of football knowledge."

Assistant Academy Manager, Southampton

Natasha Patel

Nationality: British

Highly experienced. Was Head of Performance Analysis for Southampton from 2011 to 2019, before taking on the same role with New York Red Bulls. Returned to the Saints at the start of 2023 as Assistant Academy Manager.

Academy Head of Operations and Administration, Tottenham

Danetta Powell

Nationality: British

Spent more than eight years at Birmingham City, rising from Academy Administration Manager to Academy Manager (Operations) in November 2022. Appointed Head of Academy Operations and Administration at Tottenham in November 2023.

Emerging Talent Programme Manager, Manchester United

Jennifer Mildenhall

Nationality: British

Manages Manchester United's links with local schools and grassroots, setting up events that can even lead to youngsters joining the Academy. Worked for United's Foundation before joining the Academy in 2019.

COACHING

Assistant Head of Coaching, QPR

Manisha Tailor MBE

Nationality: British

Was Deputy Head at a Primary School in Uxbridge before leaving to care for her brother, who had a severe mental illness. Started coaching part-time at QPR, rising to become Foundation Phase Lead and then, in June 2021, the Assistant Head of Coaching. Is the first person of South Asian heritage to hold such a position. You can read more about Tailor's story HERE.

Under-18s Head Coach, Brentford

Lydia Bedford

Nationality: British

Became the first female lead coach in the Professional Development Phase (18s to 21s) in the English Academy system when she joined Brentford in June 2023. Previously worked for Arsenal Women, as Assistant Coach, and with England Women’s youth sides.

Foundation Phase Lead, Preston North End

Melissa Brown

Nationality: British

Has worked for North End for almost a decade, first as Head of Health and Wellbeing, then an Academy coach and, since 2021, as Head of their Foundation Phase.

SCOUTING & RECRUITMENT

Head of Emerging Talent, Norwich City

Mariela Nisotaki

Nationality: Greek

Got her big break while still studying at Cardiff Metropolitan University. In a field of 160 applicants, landed one of two performance analysis jobs at Swansea City. Went on to work for Atromitos in Greece and then, in January 2017, for Norwich City. Rose from first-team technical scout to Head of Emerging Talent with the Canaries and has played a key role in signing players such as Emiliano Buendia. Was our guest on Episode #34 of the TGG Podcast.

Head of Recruitment, ex Watford

Helena Costa

Nationality: Portuguese

Became the first female manager of a men's team in elite European football when she took charge of Clermont Foot in May 2014. Resigned a month later, saying she had been sidelined by men. Went on to become Head Coach of the Iran and Qatar women's teams before moving into scouting, with Celtic, Eintracht Frankfurt and then Watford, where she became the first Head of Recruitment in English men's football. Left that role at the turn of this year.

Director of Player Insights, Manchester City

Catherine Hesford

Nationality: British

Is a leader in the emerging area of talent science, looking at the individual development pathways of Academy and senior players. This involves setting performance and process goals and maximising the way the multi-disciplinary team works together to develop players. Was previously Player Insights National Lead at the Football Association.

Recruitment Operations Manager, Newcastle United

Claire Burrows

Nationality: British

Joined the Magpies in May 2023 after three-and-a-half years at Leicester City. Her role is to “provide a seamless flow of information between Academy and Recruitment staff” and “co-ordinate and assist local and UK recruitment teams.” The North East side have undergone a major Academy revamp under Sporting Director Dan Ashworth.

Talent ID Scout Co-ordinator, Chelsea

Fiona Armfield

Nationality: British

Started with Chelsea as a scout, quickly progressing to Area Co-ordinator and then Talent ID Scout Co-ordinator. This involves scouting and recruiting players with the ultimate aim of signing them for Chelsea’s Academy. In addition, Armfield is responsible for organising talent ID events in the UK and Ireland.

PERFORMANCE

Head of Performance, Coventry City

Claire-Marie Roberts

Nationality: British

Recently appointed to the new position of Performance Director by Coventry City, which involves “ensuring the highest standards in all aspects of performance and preparation are delivered sustainably across the whole club.” Arrived from the Premier League, where she was Head of Elite Development and had worked for almost nine years. A former international swimmer who moved into football in the early 2000s, playing for Swindon Town Ladies and Aston Villa Ladies. Also a Chartered Psychologist and Accredited Sport & Exercise Scientist.

Chief Culture Officer, Right to Dream

Simone Lewis

Nationality: British

The former professional volleyball player was Head of Learning and Development at the Premier League for seven years, launching the influential coach development programmes ECAS, EHOC and EAM. Former Premier League Director of Football Development Ged Roddy told TGG: “Simone drove the development of coach education initiatives that truly transformed the way we work. She left quite a legacy." Since May 2022 she has worked with Right to Dream and is now their Chief Culture Officer.

Head of Nutrition, Liverpool

Mona Nemmer

Nationality: German

Has been a key member of staff at Liverpool throughout Jurgen Klopp's reign at the club. Was with Germany's Under-21s before working for Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. Joined Liverpool in July 2016. A year later, Klopp named her as one of six staff he couldn't be without. “Mona is heart and soul, she is everything," he said. "She is so smart. Not one player is in doubt about her – that’s outstanding."

Head of Culture/ People, ex England and Right to Dream

Pippa Grange

Nationality: British

Was Head of People Development at the Football Association for two years, working with Gareth Southgate and the England men’s senior team as they reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. Joined Right to Dream in January 2020 as Chief Culture Officer. Was our guest on Episode #16 of the TGG Podcast and her character features prominently in Dear England, the acclaimed play about how Southgate transformed England.

Human Development and Performance Culture Lead, Sheffield United

Sally Needham

Nationality: British

The Human Development and Performance Culture Lead at Sheffield United's Academy. Before joining the Blades full-time in April 2022, Needham worked for the Football Association for more than 15 years as a coach developer and skills programme leader. Was our guest on Episode #44 of the TGG Podcast.

Psychology and Wellbeing Manager, Brighton

Cara Lea Moseley

Nationality: British

Played international netball for Wales from 2006 to 2018, including at two World Championships and two Commonwealth Games. Brighton have led the way in psychology and wellbeing and Moseley joined them in this new role in April 2020.

MEDICAL

First-team doctor, Arsenal

Flo Newton

Nationality: British

Has worked for the Gunners since 2015. Started with the Academy before being promoted to first-team doctor in May 2020. A regular presence on the Arsenal bench on matchdays.

First-team doctor, Wolves

Kai Win

Nationality: British/ Burmese

Was Chief Medical Officer at Birmingham City for seven years before joining nearby Wolves as first-team doctor at the start of the 2021/22 season.

DATA SCIENCE & ANALYSIS

Head of Analytics, ex Arsenal

Sarah Rudd

Nationality: American

A true analytics pioneer. Was Vice President of Analytics and Software Development for StatDNA and Arsenal for almost a decade, making her one of the most senior women in the Premier League. Has now co-founded her own analytics consultancy called src ftbl along with husband Ravi Ramineni. Was our guest on Episode #55 of the TGG Podcast.

Data Scientist, Arsenal

Susana Ferreras

Nationality: Spanish

Hired by Rudd at Arsenal. Worked as a data scientist for communications companies Telefonica and Vodafone, specialising in "social network analysis, churn reduction, customer acquisition, influence spreading and predictive modelling", before joining the Gunners in October 2018. Former Operations Manager with the Spanish national basketball team.

Lead Data Scientist, Tottenham

Chloe Bailey

Nationality: British

Joined Spurs in October 2019 as Post Match Performance Analyst and became, first, Data Analyst, then Lead Data Scientist in June 2023. Plays a key role in the Football Insights department led by Fred Leth.

Game Insights & Learning Manager, Football Association

Laura Seth

Nationality: British

A leader in the field of analysis during 18 years with the Football Association. Was a Performance Analyst with the men's and women's pathway teams before becoming Performance Analysis Education Lead and then, in September 2020, Game Insights and Learning Manager.

Football Insights Analyst, Manchester City

Maram AlBaharna

Nationality: British

Job involves producing high-quality, reliable and insightful visual analytics; scoping, developing and maintaining engaging tools which reduce time to insight; and educating and upskilling the club’s football staff about analytics. After completing a BSc in Economics and Management at the University of London, AlBaharna worked as an analyst and data consultant for FC Analytics and then for The Athletic as a data journalist, before joining City in January 2023.

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