In the fifth of our UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 special Industry Insider series, we sit down with Ellie Reid, MK Dons’ Women’s Recreational Football Officer!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Ellie Reid, and I am passionate about using sport as a tool to change perceptions, improve holistic wellbeing and fulfil individual potential. I am currently the Women’s Recreational Football Officer at MK Dons Sport and Education Trust working on the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 legacy project in Milton Keynes. Additionally, I am Vice-Chair of the FA National Youth Council where we represent the youth voice in football and provide meaningful opportunities for young people to develop.
What do you do in your current role?
As part of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 legacy, I develop diverse women’s recreational football programmes for ages 16+ which are inclusive, accessible, and sustainable. A key focus area is engaging historically underrepresented groups through ensuring programmes are tailored to breaking down barriers to participation and changing perceptions to show football truly is for all.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
You are right there – no week is the same! An average week consists of some office work where I might be planning future programmes, reviewing current delivery, managing coaches and completing monitoring and evaluation. However, my favourite part is getting out of the office to meet with partners and stakeholders and going to the sessions themselves to talk with participants and see the impact the programmes are having on their lives.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I didn’t know I wanted to work in sport until my third year at University of Warwick as I studied Biomedical Science and I wasn’t aware of the opportunities available. During university, being part of the Women’s Football club was the first time I felt a true sense of belonging and knew I wanted to provide that for others. So, I became a part of the committee and was fortunate enough to lead the club as President. During this time, I gained a place on the inaugural FA University Women’s Leadership Programme which made me realise there was a place for me to work in football and provided me with a network which supported me to do so. The voluntary roles I took e.g., Berks and Bucks FA Youth Council, Sports Coordinator at Warwick Sport were fundamental in helping me gain a full-time role in football.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
My main focus is to ensure there is a diverse range of opportunities available to adult women so that when they are inspired by the WEURO22, there is a session they can attend. Whether that is our Touchline Mums group, Women’s Pan-Disability, Muslim Women’s Group or Turn Up and Play, we want there to be something for everyone.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
After leaving university in 2020, I knew I wanted to work in sport but found it very difficult to find a job in the middle of the pandemic. I had even applied for 4 other Women’s Recreational Football Officer roles in other host cities, had 3 interviews and didn’t get any of them. After 9 months and over 50 job applications, I was successful in securing the Women’s Recreational Football Officer role at MK Dons SET.
During this time, I learned and experienced the importance of resilience in achieving success. Every rejection was difficult to take but was invaluable in developing my growth mindset and shape me into the person I am today. I would never have thought I would be working on a record breaking international women’s football tournament – it’s amazing!
What excites you most about UEFA Women’s EURO 2022?
I am most excited about the tournament changing perceptions to show how brilliant women’s football is at all levels. Whether it’s on the international stage or at our recreational sessions, the female game showcases a high level of skill and provides a sense of community which I have not experienced with other sports.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
There has been a lot of great work done recently in identifying and showcasing diverse female role models in the game. However, there is still work to be done as you can see from the current Lionesses squad there is a disproportionate number of white players with none of the starting line-up in the 3 group stages coming from historically underrepresented ethnicities. It would be great to see an increased diversity in role models at the top level to inspire those from different backgrounds.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
It is definitely more difficult to switch off when your hobby becomes your job! I try and spend as much time as I can with friends and family; especially playing golf with my Dad. I tend to spend my evenings watching TV and reading books to relax before a busy next day.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Find opportunities, develop a network, and be resilient. Be proactive in finding and taking up as many opportunities as you can to gain experience and meet people who will help you on your journey. A lot of the time, the people you know will lead you to your next opportunity. Getting into the sports industry is not easy as it is so competitive but if you are truly driven to work in sport, keep working for it and the right thing will come eventually.
How to follow Ellie Reid…
Thanks for reading our chat with Ellie Reid! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.