Neil Redfearn: Doncaster Rovers Belles job ‘more than a stepping stone’

Neil Redfearn
Neil Redfearn

Neil Redfearn insists his appointment as Doncaster Rovers Belles boss is more than just a stepping stone.

The 52-year-old is the first former English Football League first team boss to take charge of a women’s side in England’s domestic competition.

“It’s not so much as a stepping stone but as an equal,” the former Leeds United and Rotherham United manager told BBC Sport.

“It is a continuation of my journey as a coach. You take different facets and learn different things about yourself from it.

“I’ve got a lot of experience - good and bad - and what it does is make you rounded as a sportsperson and a coach.

“Even though people might think you are jumping from men’s football to women’s football, the fact of the matter is that it is all relevant.

“These are elite players, elite athletes within their environment. I think the standard is unbelievably good. Women’s football in general is on an upward curve.

“It is a real opportunity for a coach to go and learn how other players learn and try to ply your trade at this level.”

Redfearn, whose first game in charge was a 2-0 win over FAWSL2 bottom side Watford, had been out of the game for almost two years.

“I have missed being on the grass working with players,” he said.“I turned down maybe three jobs, a couple in Scotland and another with an academy which I initially thought I’d want to take.

“I’ve been knocked back with one or two things that I applied for. But I’ve not applied for everything, I have to say.

“It really has taken my imagination to be able to work with the girls on the grass. To be able to make them better, being able to make a difference has given me a big buzz.

“The thing for me that has been really refreshing is their attitude, their desire to want to do well and get better.

“Sometimes in the men’s game it can be cynical towards learning and getting better. Obviously, professionals are paid highly, so what motivates them?

“These girls are desperate to do well, they travel big distances to come and train and work. They are always prompt, always professional. And it makes you want to do well for them.”