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Knock-ing down barriers for female coaches

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Adair Knock believes it’s important for female soccer players to have female coaches.

The Fort Richmond resident recently became just the second female coach from Manitoba to earn her National B licence.

"The feedback I get from girls and their parents is that it’s great for girls to have female role models," said Knock, who coaches the provincial under-14 girls’ team. "Since I started as a head coach, I’ve always had a female coaching staff, and I’m really trying to support them in pursuing (the licence) too."

"It’s a great environment for the girls to be part of. It shows them what’s possible."

Earning the National B designation was no easy task for Knock, who started coaching 20 years ago when she was a high school teacher. She started working her way through the B licence "pre-test" period six years ago, and earned her provincial licence along the way.

After an eight-day course, that included 60 hours of on- and off-field instruction, she had to pass two assessments to earn her national licence.

"It’s incredibly challenging and stressful," she said. "I prepped for it a little ahead of time with (provincial technical director) Rob Gale. The actual week itself, you can’t imagine how stressful it is. There’s so much info."

The course covered every aspect of high-level coaching, from the expected tactical topics to fitness, nutrition and psychology.

The candidates also had to do a practicum, in which they were given a topic and had 20 minutes to show that they could coach it.

"That was probably the most stressful part, but also the most helpful," Knock said.

Knock was one of eight Manitobans to pass the course, along with Raff Cantaffio, Riccardo De Thomassis, Russ Harder, Ron Jones, Peter Marinelli, Damian Rocke and Paul Thompson.

The only higher designation for a coach in Canada is the National A licence, which is usually only pursued by people wanting to coach professional or national teams.

That isn’t in Knock’s future. She’s happy to continue working with players as they develop into future stars.

"Soccer’s my passion," she said. "I met my husband playing soccer. I love working with the kids. I’ve been asked to coach older kids, but I love seeing the kids develop and become better players and people. I love those ‘Aha’ moments."

As much as she wants to see her players reach the highest levels of the game, Knock’s main objective is pretty simple.

"I believe as coaches our one goal is to keep kids playing. That’s success."

avi.saper@canstarnews.com

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