It’s not an easy road for many players in the women’s game. For Jade Richards, it involves combining playing for Rovers with a role at The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Fresh from captaining Aston Villa Women to the FA Women’s Championship title last season, Richards joined the Blues in the summer and also embarked on a new career.
As part of Rovers’ new partnership, Jade Richards was appointed UCLan’s High Performance Coach within Women’s Football, coaching the university football team.
She is enjoying the challenge of linking together playing with coaching and is able to call upon her past and present experience in both fields.
“It’s great to be back on the pitch and sharing my on-field experiences with students who may not have had those experiences,” Richards commented.
“They get that exposure and guidance and it’s just to try and push them through and make them more whole rounded.
“It’s also useful to have Blackburn’s performance analysis footage from games for the girls to see what players are doing in those positions. It’s all linked in and really good for them.
“I spent a little bit of time away from coaching, so it’s finding my feet again and having that passion to develop individuals and develop people.
“It’s providing those opportunities to succeed, whether it’s playing football at a local club or pushing their development on further.”
UCLan’s Director of Sport, Dr. Adrian Ibbetson believes it is vital for the students to have that coaching and mentoring at a key stage of their career.
Having someone of Jade’s stature on board will also help to attract girls to the course, so that they can develop and fulfil their potential as young players, he adds.
Ibbetson said: “Women’s football is one of our focal sports at the university and so we wanted to recruit a coach of significance that would draw people to want to come and play and study here.
“With Jade in the role we have someone who young, female players can aspire to be. She has played at a very high level, continues to do so and has a degree herself.
“We’re trying to give potential students that aspirant role model where they really want to go to university and work with Jade because she’s been there, done that.
“They can potentially see themselves in Jade and follow her path where they stay in education and play at the highest level they can.”