Mary Barnett

Inspired By WEURO22: Mary Barnett INTERVIEW

Palace for Life Foundation coach Mary Barnett talks to us about her experience in coaching.

As we prepare to welcome the Women’s Euros to England this summer, Surrey FA have reached out to inspirational people in Surrey who are involved in the women’s game. Next up we shine the spotlight on Mary Barnett, who is a part-time coach at Palace for Life Foundation and has secured a fully funded place on the UEFA C Licence.

For those that may not know you, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?

Having grown up on a council estate myself, I know how important it is for children to have suitable support networks and role models. This has become even more relevant over the past few years where Covid has impacted mental health and knife crime has become more prevalent in youth gang culture.

I fully appreciate how sport and in particular football can provide an outlet to focus children’s energy and discipline away from other distractions. After taking early retirement from a clerical job, I was keen to support my local community.

I am now in a privileged position of coaching in part time role for Palace for Life Foundation (the official charity of Crystal Palace Football Club) who use the power of football together with the Palace brand to change the lives of young people across South London, inspiring them to find a better path and lead a healthier life. I currently deliver several sessions a week to a wide range of participant groups including youth and adult pan-disability sessions.

You have received a place on the UEFA C Licence, how will this help with your development?

I applied to receive a fully funded place through The FA and have been successful in securing a place on the first UEFA C course being delivered in Surrey starting in July 2022. The places, which have been funded by Sport England, are provided for coaches who qualify for additional support in accessing coaching provision. The initiative is aligned to a wider goal of helping to increase participation within historically underrepresented groups (e.g. from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic, disabled and/or female coaches) as well as supporting individuals from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

How has this impacted you and your work?

Mary's manager, Roxanne Bennett, Community Sports Manager at Palace for Life said: "Mary is a fantastic role model to females looking to get into coaching! Mary understands the power of football having played Walking Football herself for the foundation, whilst also seeing her daughter progress too in the coaching pathway, I believe this inspired Mary to want to give back through coaching.

Mary has thrown herself into her coaching role and adapts well across various sessions such as our Wildcats and Pan-Disability. It’s great to have Mary in our team and I'm pleased she is looking to progress with her coaching badges as this will build on her confidence as a coach and allow her to gain further experience and continue giving back to the local community."

What’s next for you and your ambitions moving forward?

Receiving both funding and the opportunity to take my UEFA C will enhance my knowledge, develop my skills, and help increase my coaching confidence whilst providing further networking opportunities with like-minded individuals. Following completion of the course, I will be able to deliver and lead on more sessions which will enable me to have an even greater influence across a wider range of participants across several boroughs: offering a positive female role model, increasing representation, and breaking down stereotypes and perceptions. You can read more about our community work at

If you wish to know more about how you can get involved in the female game, please contact our Football Development Officer for Women and Girls Emma Eaton at or head to our Women & Girls section.

If you wish to learn more about the Women EURO’s and how we are celebrating the tournament here in Surrey, please head to our new dedicated page.



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