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Cardiff Met student challenges gender barriers after securing coaching role

​​News | 12 February 2024​​

A student at Cardiff Metropolitan University is helping to break down gender barriers in sport by being the only female to coach a men’s British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) team at the University this year. 

Millie Mayer, 20, from Gloucester, a BSc (Hons) Sport Coaching student, is heading up Cardiff Met’s men’s hockey second team while balancing her role as vice-captain in the BUCS women’s hockey first team. It is thought Millie is the first female coach of a men’s hockey team in Cardiff Met’s history and may be one of the only females coaching a men’s team throughout all of the BUCS sports. 

Millie is coaching a promoted team comprising of 28 male students, aged 18-30. Having played hockey since the age of seven, Millie always dreamt of being an international hockey player and gained a cap for Wales U21s. But now in her third year at Cardiff Met, her enjoyment of the sport coaching course has inspired Millie to pursue sport coaching as a career. 

At Cardiff Met, there are more women’s hockey teams than men’s, which Millie says gives plenty of opportunity for anyone interested to enjoy hockey in both a competitive and more relaxed environment, but she hopes she’ll pave the way for more female coaches in these environments in the future. 

Millie said: “It should be normal to have female coaches in men’s sport, but this isn’t the case yet. It feels like there is a long way to go but I hope I can become an example for other female students who want to get into coaching and could take up a role in a men’s team. I want to become one of the best coaches at the highest level in the country eventually, and this will give me incredible experience to reach that dream.”


Millie’s role as a coach for the men’s second team extends beyond the development of skilful players. She has to interpret the vision, purpose and values of the hockey environment, and make skilful decisions that support competition, create connections, or foster participation in an enjoyable environment for the health and wellbeing of the players. 

Luke Hawker, Director of Hockey at Cardiff Met said: “All coaches within the Hockey environment are annually reviewed to facilitate their progress towards personal and professional ambitions. At this point we offer coaches with the opportunity to consider other coaching roles within the environment that will contribute towards the growth and development of the club, and hockey as a sport. 

“Millie is one of our many coaches who understands the local, regional, national and international landscape of sport. She is also someone who has developed the confidence and agency to make a difference, through the connection of her degree specialism with applied practice, drawing upon the guidance and support from those around her. We hope that with the launch of a newly formed hockey coaching group at Cardiff Met, we can collectively inspire and guide more coaches like Millie at all levels of the game.”

Cardiff Met’s performance sport teams, from rugby, football, basketball, netball and hockey, compete at the highest level in the BUCS leagues. ​