AN Oxfordshire football coach has hit the jackpot after being funded for her UEFA B coaching licence course, writes JAMES ROBERTS.

Ellen Hopkins was one of 50 females selected for Betfair’s Fairer Game campaign to promote equality within the sport.

The 24-year-old, from Witney, attended a launch event, which included a talk and training session from England forward Rachel Yankey.

As one of the lucky few, Hopkins is excited about the opportunities that the scheme will bring.

She said: “I have wanted to complete my UEFA B for a number of years and I’m really excited that Betfair are helping me take that next step on my coaching journey.

“It will be an experience of a lifetime being mentored by Rachel and I am sure we will learn a lot from her and benefit from her experience.

“I never thought that my hobby could ever become a career option and this could be the boost I need towards achieving my goal.”

A former goalkeeper, Hopkins made her first-team debut for Oxford United women at 16, but a hand injury in training forced her to retire three years later.

She soon discovered a passion for coaching, earning her Level One and Two badges.

Spells with United’s under 19 women’s and men’s teams sandwiched two seasons of coaching in the United States.

And her time abroad certainly made its mark on her coaching philosophy.

She said: “I really want to go down the coach development route.

"During my time in the USA, I enjoyed working with the parent coaches to share ideas and give them the basic knowledge and tools to use within their own teams.

“Coaching is all about learning, so the more we work together the better chance we have at raising the standards at grassroots level.”

As one who has been involved for 15 years, Hopkins is well placed to comment on the rise of the female game.

She said: “It has progressed a lot over the years and it’s important we ensure we have the right workforce to be able to support the players.

“It would be great to see a more female-dominated presence in terms of coaching staff at the highest level.

“It’s great to see how much it has grown from when I first got involved at the age of nine and I would love to be part of that journey."

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