CAROLYN ARTICLE IN THE SUN NEWSPAPER
The Sun 24Sep2018
MOTHER'S PRIDE Mansfield CEO and ‘mother to her footballers’ Carolyn Radford believes more women at the top will make football less ruthless
Mum-of-three has an open-door policy to encourage her players to talk openly and privately about their problems
By Justin Allen, 24th September 2018, 10:18 am
CAROLYN RADFORD feels like a mother to her footballers at Mansfield.
And the League Two club’s CEO - who has three young sons - believes more women at the top can make football less ruthless, more caring and shape a nicer, equal environment for all.
Carolyn, 36, is one of only two female Chief Executives in the EFL along with Sheffield Wednesday's Katrien Meire.
And she feels a duty of care to vulnerable young lads who can lack life skills, get manipulated by agents, suffer mental turmoil and be sucked into perilous addictions such as gambling.
She said: “I feel for them when they come into what can be a horrible business and it’s important for us to help them.
“Whether it be dealing with agents, managers dropping them because of one bad game, personal turmoil - it’s a stressful industry.
“Even at our level, footballers are on good wages, which they can’t handle.
“Most have only known football and we have to teach them life skills.
“Some of them don’t know how to boil an egg!”
Carolyn, who is married to owner John, has an open-door policy, encouraging footballers to talk openly and privately to her about their problems.
And she has hired a mental wellness coach and introduced yoga and meditation.
She said: “Football doesn’t have to be nasty. It of course needs to be competitive but can also be nice.
“I like people to do well and buy into our values by being caring. I may be a very feminine female but footballers feel more relaxed talking to me than they would my husband.
“I’m more nurturing. That’s the mother in me.
“We pride ourselves on being a family club. We like to support our players and their families too.
“Neal Bishop’s wife Frances opened a shop called The Pud Store in Mansfield and we went there to make a bit of a deal. Happy familes make for happier footballers.”
Notts County player Matt Tootle recently admitted he is suffering from a gambling addiction.
And Carolyn believes this problem is ruining many footballers’ lives and careers.
She said: “It’s so rife. I see it and deal with it.
“Players are getting themselves into debt, which is distracting them from their sport and their careers go downhill.
“The major problem is how accessible it is. You can place bets on your phone, it’s instant.
“It’s true football and betting go hand in hand and there are commercial links when it comes to advertising and partnerships.
“I don’t think we should ban betting or advertising of it. It’s about education.
“Football should be teaching young players even before they can legally bet about the pitfalls and how it can destroy careers and hurt people around you.
“We must get the balance right. Betting can be done in a fun way but once it becomes an addiction it’s a major problem.”
Carolyn believes homophobia is as rife as sexism.
Justin Fashanu remains the only footballer to have come out as gay while playing professional football in the UK.
And the Mansfield CEO said: “It’s that testosterone camaraderie that’s the barrier. If there’s a gay footballer in the dressing room, a straight player is thinking, ‘Is he looking at me?’ or whatever.
“I haven’t yet had any footballers come to me to talk about their sexuality. But I’d support anyone who did to the hilt and make them comfortable.
“I’d educate the team around them too.
“It shouldn’t be a problem in 2018.
“We need to bring the sport up to date and say, ‘Why not?’ But it takes one person to stand up, then you can get a movement going.”
Carolyn would also like a female to manage a professional men’s team.
But I asked her if she truly believes that will happen in the next decade? She said: “Yes. We might do it but it won’t be positive discrimination. It’ll be if the right person applies.
“My mum was a PE teacher and taught males. I don’t see why a female can’t coach if she has the right credentials.
“But people at the top are mostly men.
“They don’t want to take the risk because they’ve not done it before.
“We need to support female managers to obtain the relevant experience to get those first-team jobs.”
Carolyn has significantly increased the number of women working for Mansfield.
And she said: “Having a female in an executive position encourages more women to apply for jobs in football.
"I fly the flag for women because we bring a lot to different roles. We’re hard working, we balance a lot of things, we’re good multi-taskers.”
Carolyn has been in her position now for seven years and is proud of her achievements.
She said: “When I got the job, the club was in non-league football and on its knees.
“We had huge debts, no infrastructure and could barely put a team together. We had no restaurant or facilities. I had to go and cook in the kitchen!
“We’re now back in the Football League, have a new training ground, we’re building a new stand, we’re going to build a hotel.
“We’ve brought back the women’s team and have 150 girls playing from the age of seven.
“We’re looking to bring in sustainable income which will allow us to buy quality players and attract top coaches.
“Mansfield could do really well in the Championship, so fingers crossed one day we get there.”
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