Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

ESTELLE HANDY – THE WONDERWOMAN TAKING CHARGE AT LONDON’S AFC LEYTON

Posted on 1 June 2022 by Mary Akinsola

 

The sea of girls, footballs and football kits are usually the first thing anyone who walks into the grounds at AFC Leyton’s home ground in Walthamstow sees. Just girls between the ages of 7 to 14 huddled up in age grade circles doing drills, taking instructions and training.

AFC LEYTON WOMEN’S Club Badge

AFC Leyton is London FA’s largest all female club and at the helm of its affairs is its Chairwoman Louise McGinn, a media expert who took over the club’s reins with little to no expertise about football administration but still managed to keep the boat steady after over three years in charge.

“I got involved with the club because my daughter played here and when the previous owner spoke about closing it down, I realized that it would be devastating for my daughter and the other girls, so I decided to take over the club”

The task of running a football club is one that has its own challenges, but Chairwoman McGinn describes her team as exceptional and incredibly supportive. In the center of this team is the first team coach, Estelle Handy.

Born to British Parents of Jamaican Parents, 21-year-old Estelle Handy has always had her sights set on thriving in the football space. After actively playing football in her childhood and well into her teens, Handy took an interest in coaching.

During her undergraduate degree span in Sports performance at the University of Essex, Coach Handy began her professional career juggling school and her dream to become a World class manager.

On Graduation, she focused full time on coaching and then came the opportunity to take charge of first team football at AFC Leyton.

Speaking about how much it meant to her to take up a high-profile job like the one at AFC Leyton, Coach Handy says it has been a great journey.

Here is more from her:

 

About personal and career development amongst other things, Coach Handy spoke about being a a member of a coaching program at EPL team, West Ham United and elaborated on the importance of continuous learning to ensure all-round career growth.

While speaking about what fulfilment would look like to her, Coach Handy said, “Managing at the Premier League or World Cup level.”

Coach Handy also agreed that although gender and racial stereotypes would always be one of the biggest hurdles to cross in her professional journey, “If I don’t who will.”

This response encapsulates the personality of the young coach. Her work ethic radiated in the team as she went about training routines with her team in preparation for the upcoming fixture against a local town rival.

 

Speaking about Coach Handy, Club Chairwoman Louise McGinn also admits that her influence at the helm had done wonders for the team.

 

In the United Kingdom today, only 10% of coaching positions within the high-performance Community are held by women. With more Estelle Handy’s there could be a gradual increase in this number as the years go by.