The FA and Barclays launch joint mentoring programme for aspiring leaders

The Football Association [The FA] and Barclays have launched a new mentoring programme which aims to provide aspiring leaders from historically underrepresented groups within the football industry with the opportunity to gain valuable insight, guidance, and support from experienced professionals to become tomorrow’s leaders.

The FA Kickstart: Leaders Mentor Programme supported by Barclays is open to anyone who is currently working in off-the-pitch roles at any level of English football, from grassroots through to the elite game. Through a combination of on-site and online sessions, it will focus on confidence building, leadership aspirations, problem solving, critical thinking, presenting skills, communication, and empowerment. The programme will include guest speakers from across the game, as well as one-to-one and group mentoring designed to empower future leaders. It is also being supported by mentoring software partner Guider, through their cutting-edge mentoring platform that will empower mentees as they embark on an engaging and impactful experience.

The programme is set to begin in July 2024 with an induction at Wembley Stadium, culminating in early 2025 with a graduation ceremony at St. George’s Park.

This is one of many programmes The FA is leading as part of its commitment to creating greater equality of opportunities, and ensuring more people from underrepresented groups are obtaining relevant qualifications and gaining essential experience so they can challenge for senior positions across the football industry.

In 2020, The FA introduced the Football Leadership Diversity Code to improve representation in off-field roles across both professional and grassroots football. The latest report for the 2022-23 season across the professional game showed that progress is being made in some areas, however the workforce remains short of reflecting the levels of diversity amongst the playing population. Across the 53 club signatories, 21% of senior leaders and 29% of team operations are female, while 7% of senior leaders and 9% of team operations are Black, Asian or Mixed Heritage.

Wider cross-industry research such as Business in the Community’s Race At Work survey findings also show that individuals from historically underrepresented groups are more likely to feel like they have been overlooked for promotion, while also being more likely to desire a mentoring relationship in order to progress their careers.

FA Head of Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Programmes, Dal Darroch, said: “The diversity that we see in modern society isn’t currently reflected in mid-to-senior level positions within the football industry, and that’s something we’re committed to changing. This new programme is striving to unlock talent, support progression and tackle underrepresentation within our industry, ultimately equipping people with the confidence and enhanced skills they may need so they feel empowered to take the next step within their career. It’s an important milestone in our ongoing partnership with Barclays, with both organisations committed to making English football as inclusive as possible.”

Michael Collins, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Barclays, said: “We are looking forward to working with The FA to further champion the advancement and support of historically underrepresented groups within the football industry. Our partnership with The FA enables us to continue to be a trusted ally in pursuit of diverse representation, equity and inclusion.”

The FA is looking for up to 30 mentees to join the first cohort of the programme, and if you are interested you can find out more and apply here. The deadline for applications is Friday 24 May.