Exclusive – Former England number one Rachel Brown-Finnis has explained the crucial role that specialized coaching has played in producing quality goalkeepers in women’s football, and suggests that it is “no surprise” to now see a talented pool of Lionesses stoppers emerge as a results.
Mary Earps has been England’s starter so far this season but it’s tough competition just to get into the squad, which is an extremely positive position for the national team to be in.
Ellie Roebuck has missed recent matches for Manchester City due to injury, but is expected to be number one in the long term in England. But there is also competition from Sandy MacIver and Hannah Hampton, as well as more established names like Earps and Carly Telford.
Brown-Finnis, who was an English national team player for 16 years until 2013 and played over 80 times for the Lions, believes that the main reason for such an improvement in position is correct coaching – something she admits she has never consistently had during her own career.
“I did not have a regular goalkeeping coach in the club [level] ever. There were spells where I had a goalkeeping coach and spells where I did not have it, which was eternally frustrating, says Brown-Finnis, who is the coach in the second series on BT Sports Ultimate Goal, to 90min.
“The depth of the goalkeeper is very different than it was,” she explained.
“We’re starting to see Sandy MacIver, Hannah Hampton, Ellie Roebuck, all just in theirs [early] twenties and really compete for the first team [England] stain. The great thing is that they all play regularly at their clubs.
“Especially for goalkeepers, you can train a certain technique in training but maybe just implement it in three games throughout the season, so the actual repetition in a match is much less than any other position. Minutes under the belt for a goalkeeper is the key to improvement. “
Brown-Finnis is not surprised to see the enormous progress in a position that has been criticized in the past. The women’s game has progressed considerably even in just the last few years, with all WSL clubs fully professional and goalkeepers exposed to regular specialized coaching from an early age.
Brown-Finnis said there was a “frustrating” lack of consistent goalkeeping training available during her own playing career / Paul Gilham / GettyImages
“It is no real surprise that we are preparing goalkeepers at a young age for first team action because they will have had goalkeeping training through the academies, through the regional training centers for 10 years until that time. [of reaching the first-team level]”, she pointed out.
“It really is a positive change. The thousands of hours of training I may have had at certain stages of my career, they have already crushed it.”
She added: “For everyone involved in women’s football at the moment, I feel really proud of where it is,”
“We have a record number of women and girls playing football. We have as many initiatives as Wildcat hubs for 5-11 year old girls, just for participation, as well as the pyramid of RTCs, all of England’s youth teams and the professional domestic league – all that is not. was it in place when I started playing football.
22-year-old Ellie Roebuck is a shining star among English goalkeepers / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / GettyImages
“To have been able to have been part of the movement where women’s football is now, I have done that [got] absolutely nothing but pride. “
It is former players, like Brown-Finnis, who are more in tune than anyone else with the needs of female football players to reach the next level, and play a major role in driving the game forward.
– It has been great throughout this [Ultimate Goal] series for having met current England internationals, previous England internationals like myself and Eni [Aluko], who now has different roles in management, media, administration, but all part of women’s football “, she said.
“It would not have happened, not even five years ago, there were no opportunities. Women’s football has grown so much and it is a pleasure not only to have been a part of it, but to still push it forward.”
Ultimate Goal series two premieres on BT Sport 3 on Tuesday, November 2 at 10.15 pm, with episodes to be broadcast over the next five weeks on Tuesdays on BT Sport. All six episodes from series two will be available to watch via the BT Sport app from Wednesday 3 November.
For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!