Coaches Corner: Jasmine Godden
In this month’s Coaches Corner, we spoke to Newhaven Girls coach, Jasmine Godden who is just starting her journey as a coach.
Jasmine has grown up around football and it became her passion from an early age. She has played it for most of her life and currently captains Newhaven Ladies; now, she is thinking about the next step in the game and is enjoying life on the touchline.
Football began for ‘Jas’ when her father’s love for Arsenal was passed down and she was introduced, right from the start, to the emotional rollercoaster that football can be.
“It started for me at Highbury when I was four-years-old. That was my first Arsenal game with my Dad against Chelsea. We had to leave early, and I’ll never forget hearing a cheer from the stadium which was the Chelsea fans; they had got a last-minute equaliser!
“Going to Arsenal games has always been a big part of my life and that pretty much is what pushed me into playing as a kid; this was to my mum’s dismay who wanted me to do ballet!”
It was a similar story for Jasmine as for many young girls of the time with girls’ teams often hard to come by. But she was not deterred and took any opportunity she could to play.
“I remember being 7 or 8 years-old at Tolgate Primary School, and there not being a girls’ team, so I had to play in the boys’ team, which I didn’t mind because I was definitely better than half of them!
“I had a teacher whilst I was there called Miss Trevett. She had coached and played football in America so she’s someone that was always good to look up to. I’ve bumped into her several times since and she’s always asked about my football.
“I played for Polegate Grasshoppers at a young age before I joined Eastbourne Borough around 11-years-old and that was when I started properly playing away from school.
“I went to multiple tournaments in a boys’ team where I was the only female there but that was normal to me and when I went to secondary school the boys often got more time put into them than the girls.
“It wasn’t until I joined Eastbourne Borough Girls when I was 14 I started realising the notable differences. When I got older and more mature that I fully understood the difference between the two genders.”
Jas then went on to play for Eastbourne Ladies under Adam Wolecki which appealed to her as a standalone women’s team, but it was a move to The Dockers where she shined both on and off the pitch.
“I certainly don’t want to speak ill of previous teams I’ve played for but the amazing thing for me now at Newhaven is that the whole club from the men’s team to the women’s team and all through the youth sides, the club is very equal. Regardless of your age and gender they just want the club to be successful.
“Female football has come a long way in that sense. There’s obviously a long way to go, of course there is, but certainly in Sussex, we’re fortunate to have so many fantastic teams.
“Competition is rife, and things have changed a lot, even to the pitches that we’re playing on compared to when I was younger, so things are definitely moving in the right direction.”
It was here at Newhaven that coaching was introduced to Jas, but it wasn’t a path she thought she would go down. Although, her passion for football and the leadership skills she possesses, surely meant this was a route she was made for.
“I never envisaged going into coaching! I changed my job and joined the Sussex Police as a trainer back in 2019, it was a lot of teaching but also a lot of coaching and mentoring because it’s helping people progress.
“I really enjoyed that aspect of it and I thought, ‘wow imagine if I could do that in football’ and combine the two things that I love.
“I spoke to my team manager, Andy Cook, at Newhaven who at time who was also running the under-16s girls at Newhaven and asked if there was any way I could get involved. Straight away they were very supportive, and the club paid for me to do my Level 1.
“Before I knew it I was training the girls and I was on the touchline. I actually think I might be starting to enjoy coaching more than playing although I probably shouldn’t be saying that!
“I just love it so much. The development side of things is amazing, and I think the more women we can get coaching not just in the women’s game but in the men’s game as well, the better, so we can work towards that level playing field.”
Jas added that she has had “great role models” since starting her coaching journey and has a great support network at the club.
“It’s been great to have the likes of Kieran Ridley at the club who is a UEFA B coach and has done some sessions with us, so I take a lot from that.
“Also, Andy Cook and Alex Ladd, our first team coaches, they have very different styles but complement each other well and I take bits from both of them and they let me take little sessions for the firsts which is amazing. I’m not sure my teammates always like that though!”
Jas completed her FA Level 1 qualification in August 2019, and despite it being a daunting prospect originally, there are now no limits as to how far she believes she can take it.
“I loved doing the Level 1, I was very nervous! I did have those stereotypes in my head thinking it’d be mainly men, but it was fantastic.
“I did it at Bexhill College with Stuart Noakes and it was a real mix, a diverse group, a vast age range and a good split of men and women.
“I’ve kept in touch with Stuart after and I’ve just learnt so much, probably to my manager’s dislike! All of a sudden you look at things completely differently.
“I was due to do my FA Level 2 before COVID hit, which the club were going to sponsor me for, so unfortunately that’s on the backburner for now.
“It will get to a point I think where I make a decision on whether I want to play or put my focus into coaching. There’s no doubt I’ll be continuing my badges.
“A big aim for me though is to setup a Sussex Police women’s football team because a lot of the forces have a side, but we don’t at the moment.”
You can only admire the ambition that Jas has going forward but keeping her feet on the ground, she believes right now she can act as a role model for young girls hoping to make it to the first team.
“When I first started with them [under-16s girls], I thought their age of 14/15 year-old girls would be a difficult age and wouldn’t care who I was etc. but a lot of them used to come and watch our games after their match in the morning so I think that really helped that I could hopefully be someone to look up to.
“I’d like to think I transfer some of my leadership qualities as Newhaven captain into coaching. My teammates now would agree that I’m not shy on holding back, I’m certainly a bit of a loud mouth!
“It’s so important for young girls to have role models within the game and to look up to someone and think they can do that in a few years’ time.
“There are already girls from the under-16s that have made it on to our development squad and I have no doubts that some of them will go on to be captaining sides probably much higher in the pyramid.”
For Jas, the idea of developing players is what drives her forward. But as any coach starting out will find out, it can come with its own set of challenges, which Jas has taken in her stride and used to aid her own development.
“I’ve had to learn quick and with the age I’m coaching there’s often other things going on in their lives. When I first started with them all they were talking about was Love Island!
“The language I was using was a big learning factor because coaching as opposed to playing there are things you have to break down and explain more.
“I found it quite a struggle initially but then I remember getting the high of seeing a girl who wasn’t scoring a lot, finally score in a game and I felt like I was on the pitch with her!”
“Then it’s little things like seeing them take 2 touches instead of 20 after coaching them! We’ve now seen the likes of Gracie Cook who’s gone from the under-16s to development to now playing in the first team and also Keira White.
“It was surreal at first because we had a couple of the under-16 girls play with us in pre-season. It was overwhelming for me because I’d be on the pitch with them and seen them grow as players. So, I was coaching and developing them and then seeing them put that into practice on the pitch alongside them.
“I think it’s definitely an age group I want to stay at going forward because seeing them develop and make the first team or development squad is just fantastic.”
Jas has experienced all the highs you can as a player, and into coaching she hopes to emulate that. For now, though, she’s firmly focused on one thing.
“I’ve had some great experiences as a player for Newhaven, winning the treble and going unbeaten and it was just complete cloud nine.
“I’ve then gone to coaching a side that, to be honest, were struggling for results. It wasn’t about the results though, even when they’re coming off the pitch feeling disappointed and haven’t done quite what they wanted to, it’s about having that conversation with them and saying something positive that really gives them that lift.”
In 2014, Jas went to the University of Portsmouth and studied Criminology which took her eventually down the route of working in the victim sector specialising in domestic abuse. Now, she works for Sussex Police as a trainer for new recruits.
Her football life and now her policing life, is something she believes are benefitting each other.
“Juggling football with work can be tough because I’m also a volunteer police constable in my free time also but now I’m in this industry I absolutely love it.
“I’ve realised that working with different people from different backgrounds that it’s more open. I’ll often find myself linking to examples of things I’ve done in coaching when training people.
“I think coaches sometimes can be quite naïve you do your session and the players go home but the young players in particular you don’t know what they’re going home to and that’s quite similar in the police where I’m often seeing the negative parts of people’s lives.
"Because of working in the police, I find myself asking more attentive questions to players that perhaps I wouldn’t usually ask if I wasn’t, so I think on both sides it’s benefitted me.”
Whilst Jas describes coaching football as “a very positive experience”, on the playing side it hasn’t always been that way. With this month being Football.v.Homophobia (FvH) Month of Action, she hopes it can go towards a positive change in football.
“I’m very passionate about FvH and I’m part of the LGBT+ network for Sussex Police. As an openly gay woman I’ve been homophobically abused on the football pitch on multiple occasions.
“It makes me sad because it’s not uncommon for there to be gay women in football and we should be celebrating that in all areas of clubs.
“I think we are seeing it in adult football, but I’d like to see more promotion and education in youth football to support those young players that might be trying to find out themselves who they are and what they want.
“If we can do this through sport, which should be something that brings everyone together, then that’s a fantastic achievement.
“Rainbow Laces/armbands are great, and we see it in the Premier League, but we need to stamp out slurs on the pitch because that still happens. But the fact we can merge football and LGBT history month, it’s really important and great that we can do it.”
Women like Jas involved in football are exactly the reason you know the sport is going in the right direction. Her drive to help and improve young players whilst adding in her strong leadership abilities suggest she’s on the right path for a very successful journey in coaching.
Lastly she offered some wise words for aspiring coaches in Sussex: “Get a Twitter account because it’s a great resource and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
“Certainly, if you’re like me and have played a lot before you’ll learn that those years playing don’t always mean anything for your coaching.
“Always take things on board and be open to new ideas because the game is changing so much so be like a sponge and soak in as much as you can.
For more information on coaching in Sussex please contact:
T: 01903 766855