Munster, UCC and Bandon Grammar coach Fiona Hayes and Ireland, Munster and UL Bohs coach Niamh Briggs discussed coaching pathways in the latest episode of the Vodafone Women’s Six Nations Show.
The two former players touched on how elite pathways are still difficult to access but emphasised that there are always ways to get involved in coaching and learning how to develop your skills.
"I don't think the [elite] pathway is good enough at the moment,” Hayes said.
"I think the biggest jump is trying to keep your full-time job and be involved in coaching. For me that is huge and especially because I'm not up where the high performance centre is or I'm not able to get to where these sessions are. I would struggle with that."
However, Hayes did point out that many clubs throughout all four provinces are always looking for people to volunteer at various different levels.
“You can create your own pathway and if you're interested in coaching, you should reach out to whoever,” Hayes added.
"Definitely clubs are always screaming out for coaches. I think if you like it, stick with it and go all the way you can."
One particular aspect that Hayes mentioned was that it felt like there was more of a pathway for former men’s players looking to get into the elite game.
"I personally think it [the pathways] could be better laid out and nurtured and in the men's game, a lot of ex-players will walk into a senior role on the team or get a role on the team. It's very hard for women to do that because we've never played in that high performance era."
Briggs agreed with much of what Hayes said about elite pathways but was also keen to point out the growth that there has been in developing coaching pathways over the last few years.
"There is a pathway for that domestic type of coaching,” she said.
“It's really difficult from a male perspective in that there's only five professional teams in Ireland - the four provinces and the men's Irish team - and when you think of the female game, you're thinking of an even smaller portion than that."
"Right now it seems like a difficult thing to push through to an elite level."
However, she does feel that the development is headed in the right direction and that the resources being put into coaching will soon filter down to all levels of the game.
“The game is evolving at such a fast pace and the resources that are being put in off the back of things over the last few years that it can't be contained to a two person [like the Ireland women’s set-up] thing,” she said.
She encouraged people to get in touch with clubs in their locality and look out for IRFU-run courses in each of the provinces which run a couple of times a year.
"I do think it's evolving all the time and when we look at the new pathways that are there, it's going to be huge for the game and I think that investment will filter down to the next step of coaches,” she said.
"It's a knock-on effect."
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