Kelly Simmons is a Warwick alumnus and Head of National Game for the FA, the governing body of football in England. The FA have been involved in the organisation and legacy planning of Olympic and Paralympic football for London 2012.
Kelly graduated from Warwick with a BA in Sociology in 1990. During her time at Warwick, she was Captain of the Women’s Football Team but played many other sports, including Ultimate Frisbee. "I’d have a go at anything really – I’d just go along with friends, just for fun." Kelly was also elected Sports Sabattical Officer, and remembers speaking at the Union to persuade people to vote for her, which included "getting the entire women’s football team to come up on stage and do Kylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky...hopefully my new National Games Strategy is a bit more robust!"
Kelly's association with the FA also started during her time at university. Kelly completed football coaching qualifiations and met a member of FA staff whilst working in the community. After leaving Warwick and working in Manchester organising sports activities, she received a telephone call from the FA inviting her to apply for a job as regional manager for women's football. Kelly was made an MBE in 2001 for her achievements in developing women's football and has progressed to Head of National Game.
The National Game covers all football in the UK outside of the Premier League and the Football League. Kelly manages the National Game Strategy, an investment of £200m in each four year period in facilities, coaching, referees, volunteers, developing the game and raising standards. It helps grow football for girls, boys and people with disabilities.
The FA is not normally involved in the Olympics, so Kelly sees London 2012 as a unique opportunity - especially for women's football. Between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators are expected at women’s football matches and so it is an incredible chance to help promote the sport. Kelly hopes it will help raise the profile of opportunities for girls and women to play football, and is working on linking fan interest back into the women’s Super League and participation. Disability football is also a hugely popular sport, ranking as the 7th biggest team sport of all sports played, disability or otherwise. The Paralympics will provide a great opportunity to showcase the Cerebal Palsy and Blind disability football teams.
"I'm incredibly lucky to work in something I’m so passionate about – it doesn’t feel like work" says Kelly. "If you get a chance to work in something you’re really passionate about and believe in, then go for it."