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Critical transition phases within top-level female football players in Europe

Day, J (2018) Critical transition phases within top-level female football players in Europe. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Women’s football has gained in popularity over the last fifteen years and research into this area has developed. (Lopez, 1997; Scraton, Fasting, Pfister, & Bunuel, 1999; Williams, 2003, 2007, 2011; Fasting, 2004; Brus and Trangbaek, 2004; Pfister, 2006; Cauldwell, 2011). This research study has addressed the historical developments and inequalities with women’s football and extended the existing knowledge of women’s football and developed further the understanding of how female players transition through their playing careers. Study One utilized in-depth interviews, (n=6), with senior administrators in the football organization to examine the organizational structure of six football associations (Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Norway, The Netherlands), in Europe, to understand where women’s football is situated within the organization. The status and location of women’s football in the football organization was scrutinized to identify whether this affects the allocation of resources and working practices within women’s football. The results identified the challenges women’s football faced in gaining adequate resource to develop the women’s game. Gaps in the development structures were identified and this led to the development of Study Two which recognized the need to examine how the players navigate through these structures. Transition models (Wylleman and Lavallee 2014 holistic career model) have framed Study Two to explain how the players transition through their football careers. Seventeen elite players from the six European countries involved in Study One, were interviewed to gain an in-depth insight into how they navigate through their playing career. The findings from Study Two identified that the players found the transition from junior elite football to senior elite football problematic. This depended upon whether they had sufficient junior pathways in place to aid in this transition. Key themes identified in Study One were interwoven into this study, historical social cultural acceptance, migration and dual careers reaffirmed the complex nature of elite women’s football and challenged the transition literature and models to explain how women’s football fits into these models. Despite these complexities the players navigate through their careers, however there is little known about the player to why they continue playing football with all the challenges they face. Study Three aimed to redress this, a case study narrative approach (Douglass and Carless 2006), has been adopted during this study to elicit the players own life experiences and to identify and evaluate the decision-making processes they go through, to play at the elite level. Two players from Study Two were interviewed five years on from their original interviews to explore how they have continued to navigate through the complex journey of women’s football. The stories gave a more in depth insight into the player’s careers and about the player. Resilience and player identity emerged to why these players continue to play at the elite level. The themes of migration and having to combine an academic/ vocation and elite sporting career successfully continued to develop from Study One and Two.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: transitions, women’s football, dual career, qualitative research, narrative.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2018 11:14
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2022 12:18
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk.00009478
Supervisors: Richardson, D and Littlewood, M
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9478
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