International Women’s Day: Angel O’Dwyer

Thursday 8 March 2018 is International Women’s Day and a time to encourage collective action for driving gender equality.

The theme is #PressforProgress, a strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

At Palace for Life Foundation, we have been hearing from some of the women from the CPFC family who #PressforProgress in their everyday lives and careers.

Born and raised in Croydon, Angel O’Dwyer was referred to Palace for Life Foundation by her school. After joining the Premier League Works programme in the summer of 2015 she quickly showed great focus and determination. Angel emerged as a very strong leader and began volunteering with the Foundation in 2016. The 19-year-old then took another step up and been working as a sessional coach for the Foundation since 2017.

Angel at Selhurst Park

When you were younger, was it easy to find an opportunity to play sport/football with other girls?

There were no opportunities in my local area for girls and women within football, and for me this didn’t change until I was introduced to the Foundation. I was only able to play football at school until I was referred to the Foundation by my teacher and mentor Mr Gareth Buckley. Mr Buckley noticed that I was having a difficult time at school and was at my best when I was playing football.

How has your life changed since working with the Foundation?

My life has changed completely since I started working with the Foundation. My first contact with the Foundation was when I attended the PL Works employability programme, which meant I gained qualifications and had training opportunities that I never would have before. I coached at the PL Kicks Cup in Nottingham and did work experience coaching for two weeks in Barcelona, before becoming a sessional coach for the Foundation.

After going back to study at John Ruskin College, I became student president – something I never would have thought of doing before. I gained more experience coaching at St George’s Park, and in Portugal and Manchester, which was great – this year I’ll be going to coach in Moscow. The Foundation helped to give me the confidence and focus to go and do all these things and I believe that I can now do much more.

The slogan for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress. How do you #PressforProgress for girls and women in your everyday life?

Now that I am a member of staff at the Foundation I have been able to go into schools, be a positive role model and show other young people that anyone can do anything they put their mind to. I speak to them about how I try to excel not just in college but in everything I do. It’s about having a positive mental attitude – I am the best I can be in everything I do. And with focus and the support that I have received, the same is possible and is achievable for them too.