Karen Bardsley: Former England keeper returns to Manchester City in new role

Karen Bardsley made 82 appearances for England and played in three World Cups

Former England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley has been through a lot during her 13-year career and now she wants to give back to the club she still calls ‘home’.

Bardsley spent seven years at Manchester City as a player, winning eight major trophies and forming strong bonds with supporters.

She was retired six months ago but Bardsley now returns to City to oversee the management of the women’s team in a new role as project manager.

“I’m really excited to continue to develop the game and also to have more bums in the seats – making it a really fun match experience that everyone wants to take part in,” Bardsley told BBC Sport.

“It’s a bit weird to be back here and not be on the pitch. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to stay at Manchester City and contribute to the development of the women’s team. .

“I’m here to help grow the program, give back some of my experience to the club and try to create a competitive advantage through my knowledge and enthusiasm.”

Bardsley graduated with a Masters in Sports Management in 2019 and has plenty of ideas about what she wants to influence at the club.

Her new role will see her working closely with City’s coaching staff – including manager Gareth Taylor – and the wider backroom team, creating and managing specific projects.

She hopes her vast experience and knowledge of the women’s game will help push the boundaries of creating a high performance environment and increase match attendance at City.

“There are so many experiences I’ve had in my career that I think can be a very valuable asset to any organization trying to deliver football in a women-specific environment.”

Karen Bardsley with former Manchester City team-mate Ellie Roebuck
Karen Bardsley (right) has often given her support to young goalkeepers, including former City and England team-mate Ellie Roebuck

Bardsley joined Manchester City in 2014 and was part of the team that won their first Women’s Super League title in 2016.

She played in three World Cups and two European Championships for England, as well as the 2012 Olympics for Great Britain.

The 38-year-old now believes it is important to show young women in football that there are careers available in the game after retirement.

“It may not look like it will have a direct impact, but I would like to think that what I can do will be felt in five to ten years and hopefully sooner than that,” she added.

“It’s really important to explain to young women that it’s not just the edge of the cliff when you’re done playing, there are many different ways to transition into a sports environment.

“I still feel like I can contribute to the performance in some way. It’s nice to know that I still have that connection with the girls and can relate to what they’re going through.”

Bardsley’s new role was created following conversations with City’s chief women’s football manager, Gavin Makel, after she suffered an injury at the 2019 World Cup.

She was looking for “a distraction” during her rehabilitation and met with the club’s data analysts to learn some of the basics.

Since then, City have helped Bardsley learn new skills across various departments to prepare her for this new role.

“It was kind of a mutual conversation. I was so intrigued and curious about a lot of things. I thought maybe there would have been an opportunity later,” she said.

“Women’s football was growing so fast and it needed more people who had been there, done it and had that knowledge of what it feels like. I certainly have the enthusiasm to make a positive impact.

“I like to learn and challenge myself in different ways. It’s so out of my comfort zone, but it’s exciting.”

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