Personally I know how hard it is to overcome norms in the Asian community so when I heard about a female, Asian football coach I just had to speak to her! London based Manisha Tailor has followed her passions and dreams to become an amazing role model to all Asian youngsters out there. It hasn’t been easy for Manisha though and she has become somewhat of an ambassador for mental health issues, I spoke to the talented and beautiful Manisha recently about her life, her passion and what’s next..
Where does your passion for football come from and how did you begin coaching?
One of my earliest memories is my twin brother and I playing football when we were about 8 years old. We lived and breathed football and we had an extremely special bond. My parents were not really happy about me pursuing football as a career and wanted me to focus on education; like most Asian families. However I continued to play football during school hours and played football matches at lunchtimes. I loved it. It was my passion from an early age. Then things took a turn though when at 18 my brother was diagnosed with depression due to bullying and traumatic events. My brother has now been non-verbal for 15 years.
I fell into teaching as I didn’t want anything to do with football anymore but the opportunity to coach then arose to coach when I met Rachael Yankey who inspired me to coach and I was able to combine teaching with my passion for football. I’d go home after coaching and would see that my brother is happy. I realised I was following the right path and he could potentially recover. The rest is history
Who would you say inspires you most?
I am a huge fan of Arsene Wenger and his youth coaching and development philosophy. His understanding of how to develop young players inspires me as a coach. There’s a coach at Brentford FC called Stuart English who is one of the best coaches I have seen and was in complete awe and hope to learn more from him and the club. The Nabi brothers at West Bromwich Albion and Yan Dhanda at Liverpool will hopefully inspire more Asian players to make it pro”.
You must also face comparisons with films like Bend it like Beckham. Is this something you love or hate and do you think it has helped or hindered your path?
It is nice to be compared to a film that proved to be extremely popular as well as one that focused on a subject I love – football. It has not hindered my path at all and when comments are made I smile!
What advice would you give to girls and women who want to play football?
Be willing to gain a wide range of experience and volunteer. Gaining experience at grassroots and community schemes is invaluable as that’s where it all begins. Setting up and securing a good foundation is imperative if we want to see longer term impact and that’s why I have a lot of passion and love for grassroots football. It is where my journey began and what has helped shaped me as a person.
Do you think people’s attitude to female footballers is changing?
Yes I do, I think that the women’s game is gaining more popularity and we can see that via the expansion of the women’s super league in addition to women’s games now being show on TV. This is most definitely a move in the right direction. It perhaps is not on par with the men’s game, but I wouldn’t like to compare them as I think each is valuable within its own right. Hearing about women in football having ambitions to work in the men’s game is brilliant, such as mentioned in a recent feature on Emma Hayes, Chelsea Ladies FC manager. Things have certainly moved on and I feel having male managers within the women’s game, like Mark Sampson managing the England women side illustrates a shift in thinking.
What has been the biggest highlight for you in your career?
Seeing the smiles on the faces of those that I can make a difference to is my biggest highlight and it really can’t get any better than that; being able to re-shape the lives of others is extremely rewarding. I did win the Woman in Football award the Asian Football Awards in 2013 which I was over the moon about. Being recognised for the work you do is a great feeling and to have the support of so many kind people is wonderful.
What is next for Manisha?
I want to continue to learn and develop as a coach and tutor and now work towards my UEFA B Licence. I passed the Module 3 Youth Award early this year which I was really pleased about and thoroughly enjoyed my year long journey working towards the award.
I would like to thank Manisha for taking the time to speak to me about not just football but issues which people sometimes do not like to talk about in the Asian community. Manisha is an extremely wonderful role model for us all and I wish her all the best for her future. Go Girl Power!