PPF - Staff Spotlight Q&A with Rebecca Gentle at LMA

PPF - Staff Spotlight Q&A with Rebecca Gentle at LMA

15th January 2024

Rebecca Gentle, Personal Development and Women’s Football Director
League Managers Association

Becky Gentle joined the League Managers Association as Member Services Executive in July 2016 and has gradually worked her way up to her current Director role which she started in August. In that time she has also played netball in the Super League both for Surrey Storm and Wasps, winning the Super League in 2015 before deciding to focus solely on her LMA work when Wasps sadly folded in 2022.

How have you managed your dual career over the years?

When I was playing for Surrey Storm, I realised I needed a flexible employer as I would need to train in the evenings and early mornings and work in the day. I took a break from netball when I first joined the LMA as I needed to work out the demands of the job. However, the Chief Executive Richard Bevan was very supportive of my return to netball and I just had to be disciplined. Fortunately I had access to the gym facilities at St George’s Park but sometimes I’d have to miss training because of work. I juggled it for three years but in the end I decided I just wanted to focus on my career at the LMA.

What does your role at the LMA involve?

There are two key areas. Firstly in Women’s Football it’s important that we have representation amongst stakeholders, in terms of the growth of the women’s game, and that we adapt the LMA member services to our members whose needs and challenges vary to those in the men’s game.

The other part of my role is to ensure we’re delivering education, career and Personal Development services as required. Through the LMA Institute, we offer a range of courses as well as one to one bespoke support to help members with their careers. We adapt to their needs, if they’re out of work then we can help update their CPD or support them with practical skills such as CVs, writing covering letters or soft skills such as presentation, networking, or social media. We also can provide a foreign language consultant or mentoring for first time managers which is really important in the first few months when their situation can be so volatile and fast paced and they need to get to grips with their role quickly.

What are the key differences between the women’s and men’s game for managers?

Obviously they’re dealing with female athletes and have to look after a whole different gender in terms of their psychological and physical health and therefore we need to equip members with skills to manage that. The professionalisation of the sport is happening quickly, and managers and coaches have to understand what that looks like to in terms of taking, not just their players, but also themselves from semi-pro to full time professional status.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I would say seeing a member thrive and regain their confidence after a difficult time, especially if this has occurred through support services that the LMA has provided. For example, a member who went through a terrible period which led to them being sacked and feeling low, but after eight months secured a new job and I was able to see the transformation in them through skills that the LMA helped to develop to bounce back and thrive in their new role.

What are the most challenging aspects?

I guess the first part of my previous answer, dealing with managers or coaches when they’re at their lowest, almost being a counsellor, which is hard but it’s about building relationships and knowing you have tools and resources which means you can help.

What qualifications have you gained to help you in your role?

I did a Sport Management degree at Loughborough University, which included a Diploma in Professional Studies and a placement year. I also did a mentoring course recently with the LMA and gained a Project Management qualification whilst with a previous employer.

How do you see the future of women’s football?

It depends on how NewCo grows and the investments they can secure, but there is no reason why it can’t reach the revenue levels of the men’s game. It’s a very exciting time and our aim is to represent members in the best way possible to allow the growth to happen. It’s really important that members from the men’s game know that the women’s game is open to them and vice versa so we get to the point where if there’s a vacancy anywhere, anyone can go for it.

What is the best piece of career advice you’ve received?

Ali Betson, the LMA Member Services Director who sadly passed away in September 2023, acted as a mentor for me since I started at the LMA in 2016 and she always encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone. So when things became routine or had been the same for a while, look at how to improve, evolve and take your work to the next level.

How do you switch off outside sport?

I’m probably not the best person to answer this, as when I’m not working for the LMA you can usually find me playing netball, at the gym, out for a run or at Villa Park watching Aston Villa, but to outside of sport I enjoy spending time with my friends, jigsaws and watching a box set!