Hampstead judo star Kate Howey sick of being viewed as an exception
- Credit: REUTERS
Kate Howey says she’s sick of being viewed as an exception – and not the rule.
But the British Judo head coach is backing an innovative new leadership programme from UK Sport to radically shake up the female coaching environment and blaze a long-overdue trail for gender equality.
Howey, 48, is the only British woman to have won two Olympic medals in judo and was front and centre of UK Sport’s trailblazing Female Coaches Leadership Programme this year.
The programme aims to more than double female representation in the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community by Paris 2024 and Howey, one of the few female elite head coaches around, hopes the initiative can firmly buck that trend.
Hampstead-based Howey, one of eight coach leaders involved in the programme, said: “I jumped at the chance when I found out because I truly believe that we should have more females in positions of coaching in high-performance.
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“I would definitely like my role to not be an exception – there are a few of us out there and being one of them, I relish that opportunity.
“It’s very hard to get your foot in the door as a female, and a few Olympic medals helped me get through that door. But that shouldn’t be the case.
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“Female coaches are just as good as men’s coaches – and sometimes even better – but sometimes we don’t get the opportunity because of the way society looks at women in any role.
"I think sometimes we have to work twice as hard just to get on an even keel.
“Take everybody on their merit rather than what they’ve done previously. There are thousands of women out there who don’t get that opportunity.
“I’m 110 per cent passionate about promoting women’s coaching. Any woman that is in that environment as a coach is a trailblazer because there are not that many of us out there, and it shouldn’t be like that.”
Howey soared to under-70kg silver at Sydney 2000 after scooping middleweight bronze at Barcelona 1992.
Three World Championship medals – one gold, one silver, one bronze – cemented her legacy as a great and after drawing an end to her career on the mat in 2004, she set about blazing a coaching trail.
Howey has been head coach at British Judo since 2017 and wasr one of eight elite female coaches hand-picked to be a coach leader on UK Sport’s new Female Coaches Leadership Programme this year.
The GB judo immortal worked with alpine skiing’s Jo Ryding, athletics’ Shani Palmer and diving’s Jenny Leeming to disseminate her insight around key coaching pillars such as leadership, environment and transition.
Howey relished working so closely with the talented younger crop and hopes the trailblazing UK Sport programme is a watershed moment ahead of the next Olympic cycle.
Andover-born Howey, also the only British judoka to compete at four Olympic Games, added: “It was good to hear their insights – there are a lot of challenges that I had when I was younger that I can talk them through.
“It was good for me to reflect – as I faced the same obstacles.
“It’s about time [an initiative like this happened] – I’ve been in sport a long time and UK Sport have had some fantastic courses. Now it’s about getting some more females in these positions, so it’s about time.
“My advice to a female coach would be: be true to yourself and go for it. Stick to your guns, be yourself and you’ll come shining through.”
UK Sport’s female coaches leadership programme is positioning 28 coaches as role models for the next generation of female coaches. It marks a turning point of truly making the coaching workforce in the Olympic and Paralympic community far more diverse and gender equal. For more information visit www.uksport.gov.uk.