New England Deaf Women and Development team coaches confirmed
Chris Day has been named England Deaf Women’s head coach, with Sammie Leigh selected to be England Deaf Women Development team head coach
England Deaf Women and the Deaf Women’s Development team have named their new head coaches, with both speaking passionately about wanting to help develop the sport at every level in the coming years.
Chris Day has been named England Deaf Women’s head coach, with Sammie Leigh selected to lead the Development team.
Both had previously worked together with England Deaf Women and Day is relishing the opportunity to continue working with former Leeds United player Leigh moving forward.
Day said: “I am absolutely delighted. I have been working towards becoming a senior team head coach for quite a while, having been in the pathway previously, so to now have this opportunity, I am very thankful to all the coaches and mentors who have supported me over the years.
“I am also thankful to Sammie because I have been working closely with her over the last six months and it is fantastic that we are going to be able to continue that partnership.
“We have formed a very dynamic partnership, which is clear to see, and we complement each other really well, bringing different skillsets and have both worked at high levels within the women’s game, so we have a real appreciation for what each other does.”
Learn more about England talent days
England talent days are taking place in July 2023
Day started his coaching journey 20 years ago with his daughter’s grassroots team and still coaches his son’s futsal side, Montpelier Villa.The 53-year-old then worked as a development officer within disability football at Brighton & Hove Albion before becoming under-16 coach for the Brighton Regional Talent Centre.
Day has also previously worked with the England team and Para Lions on talent identification for the player pathway.
Having worked for the FA for eight years within the regional and national programmes, as well as the development squads, Day has been working with the England Deaf Women team in December.
Now he will be leading England Deaf Women in their preparations for the World Deaf Futsal Championships in November.
Day said: “We are all really looking forward to the World Championships in Brazil. We have a strong squad who are in a very good place.
“It is a learning curve for us as a new set of staff, and with the change in format to futsal, but we are in an environment where we can compete on an international scale and that is something we will look to do in the next few years so we can really compete on the world stage.”
Both Day and Leigh spoke about the importance of helping to discover and develop more deaf girls and women footballers and futsal players.
Day added: “We have some phenomenal role models within our team, for example, our captain Zara Musker was named Deaf Sports Personality of the Year last week.
“We had an event at St. George’s Park recently with Lucindha Lawson and Molly Ripley where they appeared in front of 15 players in our regional programme and for the young players, it was like looking at rockstars because they had not seen England players that looked like them.
“So for all of us, as the coaching staff and players, providing that representation for the next generation is really important.”
It was a sentiment shared by new England Deaf Women Development team coach Leigh.
The 36-year-old has played football since she was six, going on to feature for her native Hull City and Leeds United, where she spent eight years and played alongside the likes of England internationals Ellen White and Rachel Daly.
Injuries hampered her playing career and at 24 she followed the now Wales Women coach Gemma Grainger in going to Middlesbrough, where she not only played for the first team but also worked at the Teesside RTC.
Having started coaching as a 14-year-old, Leigh had worked her way up to become assistant director and technical manager at Hull before taking on several roles at the Teesside RTC, where she would ultimately become technical director.
During that time she also worked as assistant manager at Leeds United and manager of Middlesbrough Women.
Leigh also coaches boys’ football, with Middlesbrough Academy’s under-13s and under-14s, alongside her role as sports academy director at Middlesbrough College, which involves increasing participation and supporting elite athletes across a range of sports.
“I am really happy to be appointed,” Leigh said.
“I have been involved with the senior squad for a few years on their football programme and I have had years of experience looking at how to create England players in the mainstream game.
“So having the chance to look at that from a futsal point of view and put it into this England programme is really exciting.
“I hope to give as many individuals as possible the best opportunity to progress into the England Deaf Women senior squad and help work out when that will be the right time for each player.
“We will be creating bespoke programmes for each player who comes into the pathway because we want to help every player go as far as possible and reach their potential.”
Play disability football near you