May 2022, Articles

Women in High Performance Sport Residency Programme was "massive"

Two women, one word. Massive. Two of the participants from HPSNZ's Women in High Performance Sport Residency Programme have shared their reflections on the initiative which aimed to establish a cohort of talented, highly capable, future female leaders and high performance coaches through fixed term employment opportunities within NSOs.

Natalie Lawrence (pictured), Future Ferns Domestic Programme Assistant Manager and Phoenix Assistant Coach, and Tanya Hamilton, High Performance Manager, Surf Lifesaving, both recently completed the Residency programme and were unanimous in their gratitude and praise for the opportunity and upskilling it provided.

Nine women from coaching and management roles in NSOs were selected in late 2019 to join the Residency programme, part of HPSNZ’s Women in High Performance Sport pilot project.

The Residency programme included a major personal development component along with the fixed term residency positions within NSOs.

While Natalie and Tanya are united in their praise for the programme, they both took different paths in their professional development to meet their individual needs and to add value to the NSO they interned with.

“My internship with NZ Football happened at a great time,” says Natalie.  “I was able to get into a fulltime programme with the Future Ferns and Under 20s, along with mentorship, which soon led to being part of the Wellington Phoenix.  HPSNZ’s funding allowed the role to be established and I can’t overstate the value of ‘being in the building’, being on site within Football NZ fulltime.”

Natalie chose to complete a Master’s degree in Advanced Performance Football Coaching with the University of South Wales as part of her professional development.

“The Masters programme is aligned with becoming an international or youth coach and was able to be customised to fit with the needs of NZ Football and Wellington Phoenix.  My thesis was on why New Zealand female football players choose to quit international football, not through retirement or injury.”

The next step is for Natalie to present her thesis to NZ Football which she hopes will help with youth and female players to succeed and stay in the sport.

Some of Natalie’s funds were used to participate in the Te Hāpaitanga programme for female high performance coaches, which she says was a real privilege and helped her make excellent connections with other sports.

Tanya Hamilton says the Residency programme came at just the right time for her as she was looking for a new challenge.  Previously a performance nutritionist at HPSNZ and a high performance athlete, Tanya joined Surf Lifesaving as the High Performance Coordinator, however the Residency fund enabled the role to be upgraded to a fulltime High Performance Manager position.

“The Residency programme was an amazing opportunity that came along soon after I had stepped into my role with Surf Lifesaving.  The Residency network was hugely valuable in large part because it brought me into contact with like-minded women in other sports and helped create a strong network for the future.”

Surf Lifesaving is a complex organisation with multiple high performance disciplines but with a primary focus on life guarding.

“Our high performance team, the Black Fins, have been outstandingly successful at an international level for a long time.  The bar is very high, especially in the wake of the loss of previous international coaches and the need to rebuild and develop the high performance group.  A key part of my focus is on wellbeing – not just physical, mental and emotional but also the systems, processes, clarity of roles and communications,” says Tanya.

Tanya used some of her personal development fund to participate in a mixed gender leadership course which involved three 3-day residencies over 18 months which she says was very valuable.

“My current role is my first in a leadership position at this level in high performance sport and I’m enjoying the constant challenge, growth and learning.  I have some goals which I’m determined to achieve for the sport including building sustainability, promoting greater collaboration across the sport’s disciplines and working toward the vision of creating surf lifesaving sport champions and role models that inspire New Zealanders.  Part of success for me will be to get things humming and know when I step away it will still hum.”

Natalie Lawrence