Nicole Farley: BA (Hons) Sports Development 2007-2010; Founder, Specialist Trainer and Head Coach at Nicole’s Futsal Finesse Training
“Winchester is a smaller university and very personable. I was really happy and I didn’t feel like I was just one of 200 people in a room.”
Nicole Farley has gone from studying Sports Development at Winchester to developing the sports skills of young people. Since graduating in 2010, Nicole has worked as a Youth Trainer in America and as a Part-Time Youth Football Coach for Chelsea FC. In 2016 she founded her own futsal training service. In 2019 she became a Young Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust. In May 2021 Nicole was appointed by West Ham as the club's first female coach, having applied for the role through the Premier League's Coach Inclusion and Diversity Scheme.
“I work in futsal and football. I played both and I love both. I’ve worked with Reading University and with lots of schools; I’ve worked internationally in America and even with the Winchester Sports Department. I’ve also worked in academy football coaching with Chelsea, Reading and now West Ham. I’ve enjoyed coaching both males and females because I am passionate about working with people.”
“At Nicole’s Futsal Finesse Training we have four staff and teach from age two and up. The kids love to show their tricks. The oldest person I’ve taught was a 92 year-old woman – she loved playing futsal and it helped with her mobility and arthritis. It’s amazing to see participants grow in confidence. I remember a college session where I just thought if it wasn’t for this session they would have never connected or made friends outside of their usual social groups.”
“I have over 35 qualifications across various sports. I think you need both the experience and the education. I promote and ensure best practice with a duty of care. Some people only know one way to do things but I’ve always been creative – getting from A to B isn’t always direct.”
“I’ve always been around sports since I was three years old. It’s a shame I have injuries now but I want to encourage young people as there’s so much they can do now in terms of activities and academies. There’s still room for more female footballers and female professionals in the industry.”
Nicole attended many extracurricular events while studying. This helped her to find work abroad, particularly in America.
“I would attend careers events and college taster sessions to find opportunities. At Fresher’s Fayre I found the USA Camp America experience so I applied and that was the start of my journey.”
“Every summer, as university ended, I went to America and I’ve had many football opportunities in America such as working with the New York Red Bulls. It was a brave step because I just did it on my own accord. I spent eight to nine years on and off doing this.”
“The work I’ve done abroad were neat experiences and the making of my independence. I met people from many countries; working while being out there paid for my travel. I would then use my experience from these opportunities to get further opportunities abroad.”
Nicole praises the Sports Development course at Winchester for teaching her many skills and having a varied range of modules.
“Sports Development was a tough course, with limited practical at that time. But we learned how to write, how to research and how to reference. I wish I’d asked more questions and asked for more tutorials – feedback is useful and I’m competitive so I wanted to do my best.”
“Modules such as the law of sport, physiology, psychology, community engagement and sociology give you avenues you may not have considered before – you could go into sport science or nutrition, but these nuggets of info can lead to new career paths.”
“The experience of university is with you forever. You are utilising your skillset by learning how to present and conduct yourself. A degree helps to shape that.“
Nicole adds that studying at Winchester made her very happy due to the personable experiences she had being at a smaller university.
“Winchester is a smaller university and very personable. I was really happy and I didn’t feel like I was just one of 200 people in a room. Winchester also has a rich history and a status as a lovely city. It’s all part of the experience. People who study at Winchester have a natural appreciation for what the experience is about.“
Studying Sports Development and playing for Reading, Nicole was surrounded by sports. However, as a commuter she wanted to make new friends and did so through joining the University women’s football team.
“I played for Reading while I was studying at university. I commuted from home too. I also played for the team at university. I was promoted in the women’s football team in my first year. As a commuter you just come in for lessons but having a team gave me a network and a base. Being active in the sport I love added to my passion of football coaching and it’s how I’ve built my core values such as teamwork, communication, health and wellbeing.”
Although she has many happy memories from her three years at Winchester, Nicole particularly remembers her time touring with the women’s football team during her first year of university.
“My best memories are from the sports tour I was on in my first year. I had so much fun but I still took the football seriously. I took part in the socials – I’m not normally one for dressing up and going out but we all had fun. Thinking about it now makes me smile. I still see some of my teammates to this day and we reminisce about tour.”
Nicole is very happy in her current roles and would like to expand her business in the near future by hiring more staff. She also wants to continue to make positive changes by creating more opportunities in sport.
“I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do but I want to continue being successful and respected in my field. I’d like to add more staff to my team and have my business grow – so we can carry on sharing the Finesse way.“
“A diverse workforce is crucial. I want to broaden horizons and create fairer opportunities. Some people in the sports industry will have to make brave decisions in order to do this but there is so much strength in a unified team. It’s important to me that my staff is inclusive, and we operate with clear communication, honesty and integrity. ”
“I’ve faced barriers regarding opportunities. I’ve been held back but these experiences have given me the drive to give back and give that quality provision. I only realised in talking about these opportunities that I’ve done a lot in my career. I work in a male-dominated industry. It’s taught me a lot. I try not to be fearful – as a Black woman in this line of work I believe in myself. I want to make a positive change as a coach and a business owner, an athlete and a person.”
As a Winchester graduate of over ten years and as a founder of a business, Nicole has some pertinent advice for students and graduates looking to work in the sports industry.
“My upbringing has taught me not to give up so I believe in putting the work in because you get out what you put in, setting goals and not being complacent. Ask questions and start thinking about what you might like to do, find as many experiences as you can; observe sessions and work with people in the industry such as myself. Everyone has a different timeline and things can take longer for some than others so be patient and focus on yourself.”Back to alumni