Skip to Main Content

From the pitch to the boardroom: how football has helped me figure out my career ambitions

Posted by Elaine Birch on 1st June 2021

I am currently embarking on something I never foresaw even a couple years ago – I am training to be an FA football coach. Yep, me.

As a mother of two girls, one obsessed with ballet and one nuts about football, I was keen to get involved in at least one of their hobbies. And as my pirouetting days are waaaay behind me, football won.

Flippancy aside, I’m actually incredibly proud to be involved in what I see as more of a movement than a hobby. And, actually, what started as a very personal journey has given me crystal clarity on what I want to achieve in my career and directly contributed to a crucial shift in my personal development at Wildfire.

Origin story

The girls’ football scheme I coach for started as an offshoot of an already successful junior division of our local club, which was great but dominated by boys. This meant the few girls involved often felt intimidated or overlooked.

My seven-year-old daughter was one of these girls. Passionate about football at home, she spent her training sessions lolling about in goal as the boys inevitably took over. They’d been playing for longer and it just came naturally to them.

Spotting a trend, organisers decided to hold a girls’ open day last summer, mid-pandemic, and expected about 15-20 girls to turn up. Sixty-five arrived within the first hour. A year on, we have more than 100 girls signed up and training every Friday, in five different age groups from u7 to u16.

Getting involved

My decision to join the coaching staff and embark on the qualification journey was inspired by the frankly awesome sight of all of these girls training together each week.

The inhibitions and nervousness they displayed in the mixed environment gone, they were thriving being with other girls and simply playing the sport they loved. The change I saw in my own daughter was incredible.

So I signed up. Two online courses under my belt, I am now assistant coach for the u10s (my daughter won’t let me anywhere near her team – “sooooooo embarrassing, Mum”) and I’m loving every minute.

The pride I felt when my girls won their recent friendly 3-0 with goals Kane and Salah would be happy with was immense, and I knew I’d made the right decision. Not only do I love the sport, I also love that I’m helping to grow the girls’ football movement overall in this country.

It’s something I’ve become very passionate about. So much so that I’ve also become part of the club’s girls sub-committee, helping to run and organise the girls division and lead them into competitive leagues for the 2021/22 season.

Turning ambition into action

So what, you may ask, does this have to do with technology PR? Well, nothing, essentially. But in terms of my career, and Wildfire’s ambition scheme, everything.

I was both hugely grateful and extremely excited when the Wildfire management team announced their plans to launch the ambition programme last year.

Every employee gets an ambition mentor (all of our senior management team have had specific training to become mentors) who will help them visualise and create a path to achieving their ultimate dream – whether that’s connected to the business, writing a novel or moving to the country to run a wellness retreat.

Starting with an ambition contract, we then meet as regularly as we wish with our mentor and work out what resources we need and what steps we must take to get meet our aspirations.

To be part of a company that puts its employees’ dreams and aspirations front and centre, in the middle of a pandemic no less, is simply awesome, and an opportunity I intend to grab with both hands.

The path ahead

My football coaching journey has taught me that (cheesy cliché alert) I can achieve anything when I put my mind to it. This belief, combined with the framework that the ambition scheme provides, has allowed me to put in place clear markers for my career path and my progression at Wildfire.

Last week, I signed my ambition contract and have a clear career milestone I fully intend to reach by 2024.

Armed with the confidence I’ve gained from my football journey and the support Wildfire is offering me, I know I can put the work in and meet my goal.

Oh come on, I’m allowed one cringy football pun.

To find out more about working at Wildfire and how we could help you achieve your ambitions, head over to our careers page.

Elaine Birch

Passionate about building and nurturing client relationships, Elaine loves the challenge of getting to the heart of what her clients want to achieve and designing smart and strategic PR programmes to suit. A keen and talented writer, Elaine loves to delve deep into a technical subject and wordsmith it into engaging, cut through content. Her love of words extends to outside of work as well, where she enjoys writing poetry, journaling and reading. She also is the office lipstick aficionado, with a shade for every mood!