INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN IN THE GAME - LYDIA SHALE
What is your role with the Durham FA Youth Council?
I am a member on the Durham FA Youth Council and have been since January 2021. As part of this role I share ideas, listen to other member’s ideas, and work as a team to try and improve football in County Durham.
Tell us about how you got involved in the Durham FA Youth Council?
Due to a long-term health condition that meant I could no longer take part in football as a player, I wanted to turn my attention to getting involved in a different way. I had seen the application form for the Durham FA Youth Council being shared on social media and I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to still be involved and make a difference.
What are you looking forward to most about being involved in Youth Council?
I look forward most to the range of opportunities being on the Youth Council can provide. When I first started my leadership journey, I wasn’t aware of how many aspects of football there was to be involved in. After being on Durham’s Youth Council for a few months, I was told about the FA Leadership Academy which I am currently part of, which then led me to the FA National Youth Council, where I am the Innovation Lead and Project Support alongside a great team of other youth leaders. By working alongside youth leaders from all over the country, I’m able to improve my own knowledge and understanding of the impact that football has within a range of different communities, and I’m able to then direct this into my own leadership style to ensure that my work reaches as many people as I can effectively. If I hadn’t have applied for the Youth Council at Durham FA, I never would have had these amazing opportunities.
Have you been involved in other areas of football prior to the Youth Council? What are they?
Prior to the Youth Council and my injury, I played football for my club, town and county, as well as being a referee and a football coach.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced in this role?
I think the biggest obstacles that I have faced in this role have been centred around the COVID-19 restrictions. This means that all of our meetings are virtual for now, and there hasn’t been as many larger-scale footballing events for us to get involved in. However, the Youth Council at Durham FA has been ran really well in the fact that – even though it is online – we can still engage in conversation about our ideas and development with the full support of our peers and mentor.
What advice would you give to females wishing to get involved in roles within the game of football?
My advice would be to just give it a go. Once you get yourself involved, so many other doors will open up for you and then you will eventually find where you’re meant to be. If you never take that first step and push yourself out of your comfort zone then you will never know what impact you can have on the footballing community. Everyone I’ve worked with so far in my leadership journey has been so supportive and accommodating that I feel like its okay to make mistakes, because these mistakes are what will mould you into the leader that you are meant to be.