Students Staff

6 December 2018

Meet our new Football Development Officer

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 2:49 pm

Essex Sport has recruited its first full time Football Development Officer, Sarah Dooley.  She explains her new role.

How excited are you about your new role?

Sarah Dooley

I’m very excited to be here. At a time where both the men’s and women’s National Teams are having continued success on the world stage, it is critical to harness that interest across the grassroots game too. The University, with its recent investment in the Sports Arena, has shown its commitment to sport and physical activity and it is fantastic to be at the forefront of futsal development as well as more traditional football activity. Having been involved in the women’s game from a young age, I can see how far it has developed but also am delighted to be part of delivering and achieving even more!

What does your role involve?

Our vision is to transform the lives of students, staff and the local community through football, by

  • enriching personal development,
  • facilitating the achievement of individual potential
  • providing accessible and flexible opportunities for everyone

With this in mind, I’ll be working with both local and national partners and stakeholders to increase appropriate opportunities to play, coach, referee, spectate or support the game.

As our funding is primarily being supported from the Women and Girls game, the aspiration is to focus heavily on increasing opportunities for females to help the FA reach its ambitious target of doubling participation by 2020 as part of their Gameplan for Growth strategy.

What are your aspirations for football and futsal at Essex?

In an ideal world, it would be for every student, staff and member of the local community to have the opportunity to take part in football or futsal activity at the University or within the local area.

This could take the form of playing, coaching, refereeing and spectating as well as other leadership and development opportunities. I am looking to use football and futsal as catalysts to producing work ready graduates and to place the University of Essex as a market leader for football opportunities and development.

What is the difference between football and futsal?

Good question! They are completely different games but do complement each other exceptionally well in terms of individual and team development.

Football was developed in England originally with very limited rules and almost a mob mentality which developed over time with the creation of the Football Association (The FA).

Futsal however, was developed on the streets of Uruguay and is a faced paced, skilful version of the game. Players such as Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane credit their football success to playing futsal as kids as the game allowed them to improve close control and try skills they wouldn’t dare to in football!

In terms of playing, Futsal is played on a smaller, hard court pitch where football is primarily played on grass or artificial turf pitches. The futsal court is much smaller and the game is played with a smaller, heavier ball with less bounce than a traditional football. A futsal game is split into 2 halves, each of 20 minutes with a stopping clock and football 2 halves of 45 minutes with a running clock. The futsal goal is taller than it is wide whereas a football goal is wider than it is tall.
Futsal will provide players more touches on the ball as the game is in a smaller, confined space but offers tactical and technical player development which is transferable to football.

So, everyone should try both and our Active Sessions offer the opportunity to do just that!

How will you be involving Essex students?

I’m currently working on developing a Student Football Management Team who will represent their peers to drive football and futsal in the appropriate direction. Alongside this, I’m developing Coaching and Refereeing Hubs which will bring together likeminded students who wish to progress on either pathway. The Management Team will have a representative from the coaching and refereeing hubs, as well as BUCS Presidents, so the whole football and futsal picture at the University is represented.
Once this is all set up and running, we will deploy Hub coaches and referees into relevant internal and external opportunities, both as volunteers and into paid opportunities.

How long have you been playing football?

I hung up my playing boots a number of years ago to move into coaching and development having played for Ipswich Town Ladies (in what was the 2nd tier of women’s football in England), Arsenal Ladies Academy (in the same cohort as Alex Scott) and in a summer league for Boston Renegades in America. I also represented the University of Chichester throughout my undergraduate degree.

Have you worked in football before?

Yes, for over 10 years. I started on a part time basis for Ipswich Town Community Trust before moving to work full time at a club in America. I spent just over 4 years working as Club Registrar, Head Coach and Assistant Director of the department overseeing development and playing opportunities for all Under 13-20 ‘s. When I moved back to England, I coached part time for Suffolk FA before moving to the University of Suffolk. As Sport Projects Manager, I applied to BUCS & The FA to deliver the Community Hubs Model at Tier 3. With this support, and by working with Students, I doubled men’s participation and developed 2 competitive women’s teams from scratch (1 football and 1 futsal) plus adding a social futsal session for all.

Are there plans to expand your team?

We currently have Yvan Godby working part time as Football Activator; his role primarily focuses around the development and sustainability of opportunities for male students as well as exploring appropriate offers for and within the local community. In the very near future, we will be recruiting a female Football Activator who will be tasked with driving female participation in football through alternative playing opportunities as well as recruiting new coaches, referees and administrators to the game. Additional to this, through the Student Football Management Team, there will be volunteer coordinator roles available too.

If you would like more information, please contact Sarah Dooley, Football Development Officer on who will be more than happy to help or signpost you to the right opportunity.



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