Describe the purpose of the project:
The overall vision of the Coach AnnieZ Foundation is to use football as a tool to engage with BAME girls and young women - to empower, inspire and encourage them to follow their heart and achieve their full potential.
The Coach AnnieZ Foundation will give BAME girls and young women a safe platform where they can engage in football sessions to develop transferable skills and have fun with their peers, in an environment which is respectful of their religious and cultural needs.
As a female Muslim coach I understand the religious, cultural and family barriers these girls often face and I have channeled this into the work of the foundation which provides them with an outlet by positively engaging in football.
I have the responsibility of making sure that I am a coach who they can relate to based on my gender, race, region and cultural background. The foundation provides girls with the right tools to support their development as aspiring footballers, coaches or in any other career path that they wish to pursue.
When did you set up Coach AnnieZ Foundation?
After I won the Sky Sports Women of the Year 2015 and Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration I was invited to be a guest speaker at the FIFA Women’s International Conference in Zurich (FIFA HQ). This inspired me to set up the Coach AnnieZ Foundation with the support of my advisor Andy Reed OBE who shared my vision for the foundation and the positive impact it can have on young people.
With Andy’s guidance I created a five-year business plan which includes the foundation working regionally and nationally. We are currently waiting for our charitable status confirmation and once we are officially registered as a charity we will be in a position to seek funding to deliver mentoring and coaching sessions to empower, inspire young women from diverse communities.
What are your goals / ambitions for the projects?
We have a five-year business plan to deliver projects in South London, East and West Midlands and Manchester. Once we have achieved this we aspire to take the foundation internationally. I have already had a taste of this having travelled to Malaysia in 2016 as a guest of the British High Commissioner who gave me the opportunity to coach young refugees girls from the Rohinya community.
We would also we love to get more young girls from BAME communities into football, whether it be playing or coaching.
What will you put your Boudavida donation towards?
The donation from Boudavida will be put towards delivering football sessions to young girls as part of the elite development sessions and also the social inclusion community coaching sessions. These sessions will continue to support individual player development and empower them to develop self-confidence on and off the pitch.
Describe the hardest challenge in sporting career that you have had to overcome?
The hardest challenge I have had to overcome aside from racism, sexism and Islamaphobia is being accepted and taken seriously as a professional elite coach that I feel I have the potential of becoming. I have sacrificed so much to spend time studying, watching, delivering and planning training sessions to showcase my potential, knowledge and game understanding as an elite coach. Football is my passion and I am going to continue to chase my dreams of becoming a full-time paid coach in a professional club.
What has been the greatest success of the project so far?
The greatest success so far has been the website - seeing my vision become a reality is still very much surreal. This has given me more focus and hunger to make the foundation fulfill the potential it has to empower, inspire and engage with young girls through football.