Lynwood Senior High School’s Ann Gourley has been honoured with the National Female Football Week CommBank Coach of the Year award.
To clarify, we’re talking round-ball football, the sport some call soccer.
Ms Gourley claimed the honour for her role as the women and girls coach of Gosnells City Football Club. She is also the head of Lynwood’s specialist soccer program.
Growing up, her football-playing experience was limited to playing with the boys on the streets of Belfast, in Northern Ireland. She discovered that she had a talent for coaching while at university. She took the helm of the under 14s, then under 19s Northern Ireland teams before starting with Football Australia in 2008.
Ms Gourley recalls that getting to where she has in her career in girls’ football coaching hasn’t always been easy.
“Some of the biggest challenges I had as a coach have been breaking into a male-dominated sport, especially in the coaching profession, and always having to try and prove your worth as a coach,” she said.
In 2018, Ms Gourley returned briefly to Northern Ireland to obtain the Union of European Football Association’s (UEFA) Coaching Licence A, the highest-level coaching licence available to her.
But despite her high-performance coaching credentials, Ms Gourley is most passionate about the work she does at a community and school level. She started as a prac teacher at Lynwood Senior High and began working there in 2012.
As a huge advocate for women and girls’ football, Ms Gourley aspires for a bigger future for the sport, both locally and more broadly.
“In our school academy, we want to continue increasing the interest and raising the bar for our young females and help them grow as young adults while fostering relationships with the local community to increase awareness of females our sport.” Ms Gourley said.
“I hope that locally we can help provide opportunities for females to play at grass roots and a more elite level, if that is their aspiration."