Lizzy Kent Interview by Dylan O’Connell
Ever since the formation of the Women’s National League, Wexford Youths is a name synonymous with success.
With four league titles, three FAI Women’s Cups, three Women’s National League Sheilds, and one League Cup, the Youths are known for silverware and high class player development.
One name behind all of this has been coach Lizzy Kent, who has worked with the club since their very first game in women’s football.
In addition to her work in the south-east, Lizzy also coaches with the Republic of Ireland u19 women’s team.
Lizzy: “I have been involved in coaching in one form or another for over 20 years,” she told Pro-Scout 3.
Lizzy: “When I was growing up there was no girls teams in my area. I was mad keen to play so we set up a women’s club where playing and coaching became part and parcel of it. I have also played and coached Gaelic Football for a similar number of years. Studying Sport and Recreation at Waterford Institute of Technology, qualifying as a Sport Ireland Coach Developer and completing my UEFA B License further informed and ignited my passion for coaching.”
Lizzy: “In 2010 I became assistant manager to Wexford Youths Women’s team for a three year period and during this time spent some time coaching with Seacoast United in America. Following that I returned to my local club, and was involved with Wexford League U18 representative team and ETP’s before getting back involved with Wexford Youths u17. In the past year I have been lucky enough to be involved with Dave Connell’s Irish U19’s as an assistant coach. “
Lizzy: “I feel hugely proud of what’s been achieved by Wexford since the club was formed. Saying that, numerous people have contributed to that success both on and off the field. I can’t praise the players enough their ability, commitment, togetherness and desire never ceases to amaze me. In a way they have made what many would have said was impossible they’ve made it possible and in doing so are inspiring a new generation of players in the south-east.”
Lizzy: “When it comes to my role with Ireland, there is no doubt there is certain time challenges however a huge amount of pre planning is carried out for both groups and everyone is very clear of their roles and responsibilities.”
Lizzy: “The fact that the fixtures for both are clearly laid out certainly helps with this planning process. When you are in an International camp it is extremely busy and you need to be focused on to the task in hand all the time. Therefore it’s so important for me that the club structure is correct in relation to Wexford we have a terrific management team who oversee everything and a coaching team that execute it I actually think they don’t even miss me when I’m gone!”
Lizzy also told Pro-Scout 3 about her coaching philosophy for Wexford and Ireland:
Lizzy: “When I’m working with a team I try to facilitate a fun and enjoyable learning environment where individuals can develop as people and players to become the best that they want to be.”
Lizzy: “Facilitate is one of the key words here and one of the things I’ve learned over the years. When players can execute plans and solve problems themselves you know you are on the right path. When you have an environment that’s enjoyable to be in it’s easier for players and coaches to learn and develop and by knowing your players and what they want to achieve it’s easier for you as coach to provide the parameters to help them develop.”
Lizzy: “Combined with that there are two things I always look for with any group I’m involved with which is attitude and work-rate. These are the foundations for me they don’t require any skill or knowledge and I believe if these are right it provides you with a strong base to develop from.”
Development is a core principle for Wexford and one which Lizzy holds above all else in the club.
Lizzy: “We measure success in lots of different ways obviously trophies but also how we conduct ourselves, how we develop and how we improve ourselves both on and off the field. The Women’s team tick all the boxes for me in relation to this which in turn helps in creating a club environment where players want to play and progress.”
Lizzy: “We are so lucky in Wexford to have such incredible role models who are always so willing to help and engage with the 17’s. The likes of Kylie Murphy, Nicola Sinnott, Rianna Jarrett and Edel Kennedy are inspirational figures. They see the bigger picture and understand the importance of encouraging the development of young players within the club. We train in the same venue at the same time and often play against each other. This has been brilliant for the 17’s as not only has it given them an opportunity to see what it takes it also allayed any fears they may have had about making that next step.”
Lizzy: “Seeing players like Rianna make the move over to England I think it’s something that we all embrace. I mean I’m inspired by them and similar to the successes it shows the players that anything is possible. Blessing was playing 17’s last year and is now off on Scholarship to America. Rianna has played 9 of those 10 years with Wexford Youths and had just signed her first professional contract. I would like to think when the 17’s see this that they realise anything is possible and it’s certainly something that we would be encouraging.”
Almost 30 years on from when David O’Leary scored the winning penalty to send Ireland into the quarter finals of the World Cup, Lizzy says a similar moment is needed to fully kickstart the interest and appeal of Irish women’s football.
Lizzy: “Italia 90 was certainly a big moment that ignited my passion for football. It’s exciting looking at the progression of the Senior Women’s team and how close we are to qualifying. It will happen sooner rather than later in my opinion and the key then is to be in a position to build on that momentum. I would love to see it instil a passion for the game in the next generation and increase the number of young girls playing the game. In turn creating a long term legacy of where qualifying starts to become the norm.”