Future Lionesses Goalkeeper Coaching programme in safe hands

Last month, as part of the Future Lionesses Goalkeeper Coaching programme, 103 young goalkeepers descended on St George’s Park.

I can’t remember having seen so many goalkeepers all in one place before. I am left wondering, is there a collective noun for goalkeepers? What could it be? Perhaps a save of goalkeepers, a set of goalkeepers, maybe a union of goalkeepers?

What is the Future Lionesses Goalkeeper Coaching programme (FLGKC)? It’s a country-wide initiative enabling the most promising young keepers to access great coaching. The FLGKC programme aims to develop goalkeepers, specialist goalkeeper coaches, and coaching practices for the keepers. This initiative complements the progress already achieved in goalkeeping over the last few years.

Lionesses goalkeeper training session

It was a privilege to be involved in this unique opportunity. Experiencing such a special occasion, and watching the senior Lionesses training. All eyes were on Mary Earps, Ellie Roebuck, Khiara Keating and Hannah Hampton as they showed their training prowess. Making some outstanding moves and saves throughout their session.

There were glances across to the outfield players, as they were put through their paces. However, these aspiring young keepers returned their gaze quickly to study the excellent goalkeeper session and activities being showcased.

Earps demonstrated her trademark power, agility and focus throughout the training session. Once again showing why she is the best goalkeeper in the world. We celebrate her recent fifth-place finish in the Ballon d’Or — the highest achievement for any goalkeeper.

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Training, tour and (round) table

The main purpose of the day was to watch the senior Lionesses train. Jamie Annerson, The FA’s Women’s Goalkeeping Pathway Lead, planned in some afternoon training time for the young keepers. This included a guided tour of the England training facilities, taking in the gym, swimming pool and recovery pool.

Finally, to top off an exquisite day, these aspiring players were audience to a goalkeeper question and answer session. Hosted by the amazing Rachel Brown-Finnis, the senior keepers shared their journeys, experiences and top tips with us. As ever, the Lionesses were generous with their time and were an inspiration across the entire day.

Every young keeper was smiling, taking away mementoes (a Mary Earps shirt no less), selfies, insights and experience of the extremely professional set up at the home of England football.

The 30-strong group of FLGKC coaches benefitted from the day, sharing coaching ideas with each other and networking opportunities. Darren Ward, Women’s Senior Goalkeeping Coach for the Lionesses, shared his insights and experience. Sharing tips around working with and adding value to these top level players. It was great seeing the young keepers and coaches asking questions. Everyone was genuinely excited about the whole GK coaching process. I definitely encourage all the Future Lionesses to identify and develop their superpower in goal.

The future in safe hands

Reflecting on the day, I wonder about the future for these goalkeepers. In today’s professional game, there is a healthy future. Playing in the WSL, playing in European and other leagues across the world. These keepers are already among some of the best in the country. Their skills were very much evident during the afternoon training sessions. A peek at the limelight is inspirational. But now the hard work begins.

My only remaining question from the day is: what could our collective noun be?

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