Yasmin Hussain: The Redbridge football coach making waves on and off the pitch
- Credit: Archant
Most people can look back and pinpoint the moments that changed their life. Often, it’s a significant event, like marriage or the birth of a child.
Sometimes, as was the case with football coach Yasmin Hussain, it can be something as innocuous as scrolling through Facebook.
This is how the 36-year-old from Chadwell Heath stumbled upon the FA course that would go on to become the cornerstone of her burgeoning coaching career.
The Recorder caught up with Yasmin in between coaching sessions to talk about her journey, and her hopes for the future of the women’s game.
Though her coaching career is in its infancy, Yasmin’s love of the game is a lifelong affair.
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She affectionately recalls how she loved playing football growing up, with her joy only interrupted by a sad reality which forced her to quit: “I had to stop because of the barriers I faced as a woman. My dad made me a deal — ‘if you can find a female coach you can play’.”
This didn’t happen, and Yasmin put her passion to one side. But the flame never went out entirely, something which prompted the coach to explore the idea of playing again around three years ago.
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It was this decision that set off Yasmin’s career: “I wanted to get back into playing; when I tried to find some teams on Facebook, I saw an ad saying there was one more space on an FA course specifically to get BAME women into coaching.”
The rest, they say, is history.
That three-month course secured Yasmin’s first coaching qualification.
Adamant that she didn’t want to be someone who “just finished the course”, Yasmin immediately set about gaining practical experience, with the Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) on hand to connect her with Frenford Youth Club.
Though club employee Neal Akhtar would prove a huge support as Yasmin navigated her first steps as a coach, this chastening period acted as a reminder of the barriers which forced her out of the game in the first place.
Describing her maiden training session as “terrible”, Yasmin attributes this feeling to more than just first-day nerves.
“I was coaching a group of young boys and felt intimidated. There is still this ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ perception about female coaches.”
After a baptism of fire, Yasmin found her groove, and is now coaching seven sessions a week for a myriad of clubs and teams.
She does two sessions each with the MSA and Frenford Clubs, alongside one for Colebrook Royals and the Leyton Orient Trust. Yasmin also manages, coaches and plays for the MSA and Frenford FC team.
One of her biggest motivations is to “give other girls the opportunities” she never had.
She is confident that no girl will have to stop playing because of a lack of female coaches. Those days are gone, she says: “Women’s football is going in a good direction.”
When asked about the significance of women coaching girls, Yasmin adds: “I think girls find it easier to talk to me. I’m grateful they see me as someone who represents them, as a woman who represents them.”
Not content with only being a pioneer on the pitch, she also advocates for greater female inclusion as a council member of the London FA.
This work is paying dividends, with the sea change in how the women’s game is viewed working its way through society.
With a smile, Yasmin describes seeing a “massive change in how the community thinks”. While her dad has always been “very proud”, her extended family now have a much greater level of interest in, and appreciation for, what she does.
Yet the biggest support comes from home. Yasmin’s husband Nasim has encouraged her coaching ambitions ever since they were first expressed.
“He’s so supportive. When I used to play, I’d always come home in such a good mood. He would say ‘you seem so much happier, it’s really nice to have around the house’.”
Buoyed by that backing,Yasmin is thriving.
She is able to coach flexibly around family time with her husband and three children.
She is also able to be a figure in the boardroom at the London FA.
Yasmin is affecting the game at both a grassroots and national level, as she always hoped she would.
She believes her story will “show women and girls that there are opportunities out there — you just have to look for them.”
And it all started with Facebook.