In the tenth of our UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 series with Women in Football we sit down with Kelly Simmons OBE, Director of the Women’s Professional Game at the Football Association!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I am Kelly Simmons OBE, Director of the Women’s Professional Game at the Football Association, leading on Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclay’s Women’s Championship. Before this role I was Director of Development for The FA, leading on children’s and grassroots football.
What do you do in your current role?
I lead on the creating and delivery of the women’s professional game strategy which includes an exciting ambition to develop the best women’s football leagues in the world -by developing and attracting world class players, maximising audiences and growing commercial revenue with a view to long term sustainability.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
Hectic! It might include prep for a board meeting, department and one on one meetings, working with and supporting the clubs, talking to our commercial and broadcast partners etc. And I try to get to a BWSL or BWC game most weekends too. In between all of that I can be found walking my dogs on Brighton beach!
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I fell into sport by chance. I didn’t know a woman could have a career in football when I was younger. I played for the university, obtained my coaching badges and went into development -and have loved every second. I would thoroughly recommend it as an industry to work in and one of the reasons I am on the Women in Football Board is that I am passionate about ensuring the football workforce is diverse and that women have the opportunity to flourish in this wonderful industry too.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
The players, it’s a core principle in our strategy and one I am passionate about. Players have to be at the heart of all we do whether that’s the fixture calendar, supporting the workforce to support them or having their input into the development of the competitions. Their voices are vital.
What excites you most about UEFA Women’s EURO 2022?
The opportunity to showcase world class football in great stadiums with big crowds and global audiences. And, of course, watching England’s progress. I am very excited about Sarina’s squad and the style of football we play.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
I would like to see more women, and diverse women in senior leadership positions and on the boards of football bodies and clubs and I would like to see women’s football represented at senior level in all clubs.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
Walking the pups, swimming in the sea (more a summer hobby..) and running 5ks very slowly! I love the cinema too.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Do it! It’s a wonderful industry to work in. I’ve worked non-stop for 30 years in it and never felt like I’ve done a day’s proper work as its like a hobby. And in the women’s game, because it’s in such a growth and development phase, you really feel that you can have an impact.
How to follow Kelly Simmons…
Thanks for reading our chat with Kelly Simmons OBE! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.