I am a British Asian female working in the beautiful game known as football. By profession I am a qualified head-teacher and have worked in several London based primary schools for more than 10 years before embarking upon my career change in 2011. I am now the CEO of Swaggarlicious Ltd, an education and football based organisation focused on challenging stereotypes that exist within the game. Swaggarlicious is an official partner for ‘This Girl Can’, a national campaign aimed at challenging stereotypes for women in sport. Coaching and tutoring was a natural progression for me as it gave me the opportunity to transfer my knowledge and skills within education and child development, to a football environment which now sees me as Head Coach at Middlesex Girls Centre of Excellence, an FA Education Tutor as well as an Equality Tutor for anti-racism charity, Show Racism the Red Card. In addition, I am an academy scout for Brentford FC and an ambassador for the British Asian Sporting Talent Foundation and The FA’s Football Needs Campaign. I sit on the Grants Board for the Women’s Sport Trust and the London FA’s Inclusion Advisory Group where she is the Media lead. I have also produced and presented on a Football Show titled ‘Futsal Discovered’ which aired on Freeview.
In April 2013 I was voted in the top 4 at the inaugural Asian Woman of Achievement Awards in the Sport category and on October 8th 2013, I was presented with the ‘Woman in Football’ award at The Asian Football Awards held at Wembley Stadium which is something that I am extremely proud about. In 2014, I was a finalist in the Sport category at the Asian Achievers Awards, as well as, the British India Awards for Best in Sport.
1) What inspires you?
My passion and love for football began when I was 8 years old, inspired by my twin brother who is my real strength and hero. We were inseparable and football became a huge part of our lives whilst growing up, and still is. At the age of 18, due to a series of traumatic events that involve long term bullying, my twin became depressed. His condition is such that he is non-verbal and requires 1:1 care. It was late 2011 when my mum had a heart operation, my sister started university and I was completing my Masters Degree in Leadership as well as working as a Deputy Head. It all proved quite a challenge, so I decided to leave full-time work to complete my MA and at the same time ensure that my mum and brother were looked after. I began coaching part-time in schools covering PPA and After Schools clubs. As I returned home one day from work I saw my brother smile. He then walked over to my football equipment and said “football… Manisha”. I paused, took a deep breath and tried to absorb what he had said. I immediately knew that there was a connection and that was between me, my brother and football. The decision was then made. I decided to pursue a career in football, as I believe it will act as a trigger to aid my twin’s recovery from depression. Along the way it is also helping me deal with my emotional journey too. I am currently seeking funding to run a football and mental health project in partnership with Barnet’s ‘Mental Voice’ and looking for £600 for a pilot. I would hugely welcome organisations/companies to contact me if they can help.
2) My message to the AWMB community
It takes much courage and strength to give up security and aim to work in an industry that poses many challenges, however this for me is about moral purpose. In addition to that, it is giving me the opportunity to fulfill my ‘calling’ which is to use my experience and story to serve and help others. Do not dismiss ‘YOUR calling’. Whatever you wish to achieve you CAN!!!
3) Something that would surprise us about you?
Hahaha… I am only 4 foot 9 inches in height and have a very small frame. Recently, my mum and sister saw one of my training gym videos and said: “Oh my gosh, you are so little, how are you able to do that. We didn’t think you were that strong!” That made me laugh, as there is the perception. Tiny but super strong! Check out my videos on Instagram and Facebook to see what they mean 😉
Find out more about Manisha by clicking on her website and following her on Twitter and Facebook.