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Newcastle United Women's Manager Becky Langley on Her New Role at Smart Works

Newcastle United Women's Manager Becky Langley © Colin Lock
January 2024
Reading time 3 Minutes

Becky Langley tells Living North why being Newcastle United Women's manager and ambassador for Smart Works Newcastle is a match made in heaven

She shares her long-term goals for the club, and how she's empowering strong female role models.

Becky has always loved playing football, and dreamed of the career she’s now thriving in. We meet her fresh from the pitch at Kingston Park Stadium where Newcastle United Women play their home matches. As we take a seat, she looks out across the pitch and reflects on her journey into the sport. ‘I loved playing sport and loved playing football, and I wanted to do that at the highest level possible,’ she says. ‘I wanted to work in the Women’s Super League or for a professional football club and go down a coaching and teaching route. It was a passion, but it helped having family from the North East who love football and live and breathe it. In this area everyone knows about football, whether they like it or they don’t!’

Having coached football since the age of 14 whilst growing up in Yarm, Becky began her coaching career alongside studying Sports and Exercise Science at Loughborough University then went on placement at Nottingham Forest Football Club, working with the under 18 boys’ team. ‘It was nice to be a female working in a boys’ and men’s environment; to experience that and build my confidence and understanding of what that football environment is like,’ she explains. Becky went on to work at Physiolab Technologies and coached part time at Nottingham Forest and at the University of Nottingham. ‘A job at Northumbria University came up so I applied,’ she says. ‘And part of the role was working for Newcastle United Women for 10 hours a week,’ she continues. ‘It was important, for me and my family, to come back to the North East, and it just shows how much the role has evolved at Newcastle United Women because I’m now the full-time manager here. The support from the club wasn’t previously there, but now it definitely is with the amazing new owners. Co-owner Amanda Staveley being involved has really helped drive everything for the women’s team.’

Every day at the club is different, but it’s all about being consistent, as Becky explains. ‘We work six days a week (our day off is a Friday), and each day presents a different physical and technical challenge for the players. For us as staff we need to design sessions in a way that gets the best out of them. I come in on a morning, have a staff briefing and ensure the session is planned exactly how we’d like it to run from a physical, psychological, technical and practical perspective. After the session we’ll come back, the girls will have lunch, and the staff will reconvene and speak about what went well in the session and what we could improve. We’ll go through the analysis of the session and watch back the video clips, then in the afternoon we’ll do a lot of planning and reviewing and go through various aspects with players individually. When the players leave we’ll ensure everything is ready for the next day. It’s all about ensuring the players are best prepared to go out and win their game on a Sunday.’ 

© Colin Lock

We catch Becky just a few days ahead of an away fixture against Nottingham Forest Women, and with Newcastle United Women becoming the first full-time professional football club in FA Women’s National League history for the 2023/24 season, she’s in high spirits. ‘It’s massive,’ Becky says of the achievement. ‘It means the girls can fully focus on being full-time footballers. Last year I was full-time but the players were still part-time, so they had full-time jobs as well as being footballers. They would be training three to five times a week but were also in very good careers – they were assistant head teachers, police officers, PE teachers, beauticians and having to balance working a 12-hour shift, getting changed quickly, eating something en route, then training for three hours. In terms of their rest and recovery, and their ability to give everything to the sport, it just wasn’t possible. Whereas now they’re able to wake up on a morning and their only focus is football, their only focus is rest on their day off, and it’s just a completely different lifestyle. That’s also helped us attract better quality players to Newcastle who’ve relocated to play for our women’s team.’

With their heads solely in the game, these players are inspiring the female footballers of the future. In fact, the whole club is. ‘I think it’s really important for me personally to have seen both sides of the journey,’ Becky admits. ‘Now we’re giving players the best of the best (or trying to at least) but I can also remember the days when players were paying to play – the transition has been massive. There will be girls in the crowd seeing a female role model. They’ll see 11 female role models on the pitch playing but also a female ref, a female coach, a female physio, a female video analyst – these are role models proving that if they work hard they can be in a similar position.

‘There’s nothing more rewarding than doing something you love every day. Sport gives you such highs and such lows and it’s addictive in that sense, and it’s so much fun being part of a winning team and a successful, together group. If you believe you can do it, then why not? Just put all your energy into achieving your dreams.’ 

If her day wasn’t jam-packed enough, Becky has now taken on the role of Smart Works Newcastle’s newest ambassador. The charity empowers women who need help getting into work through the power of high-quality clothing and one-to-one coaching. While Smart Works marks its 10th anniversary, they are celebrating five years of delivering support to women in the North East. ‘I got involved with Smart Works through the Newcastle United Foundation,’ says Becky. ‘Steve Beharall and Sophie Milliken had a connection and brought me into a meeting then took me to Smart Works Newcastle. I think what was really nice was that it was very clear that our values aligned. A lot of the work Smart Works does is about helping females into employment opportunities, whether that’s support through fashion, job and interview prep, or simple things like mapping the route to a job interview. It’s about giving support and confidence so they can go into a job interview much better prepared and ready to smash it. Something I’m really passionate about is getting females into employment opportunities, and especially into sport and into roles which are often in a male-dominated environment, because they have loads to offer from a different perspective. 

‘When I met the guys at Smart Works I was shocked how much I’d taken for granted in my own upbringing and preparations for interviews that I hadn’t even considered. Things like what I’d wear to a job interview. My mum was so supportive and would say “we’ll take you to the shops and buy you a nice outfit, or you can borrow something nice of mine” whereas for some women in the North East they don’t have the finances, the family support, or the confidence to wear a certain outfit. At Smart Works they work with brands such as Burberry and various others to ensure there are different options for women to feel empowered going into their interview. The team at Smart Works have been to a game and while they’re in the suite they’re able to interact with the likes of Amanda and Mehrdad [Ghodoussi, co-owner] and key stakeholders at the football club. I want to do more. I want to go and have conversations with the women who are working with Smart Works on a daily basis. We want to invite them to our base so they can see various career opportunities and we’d love to work with more young people in regards to that too.’

(From left to right) Fundraising and Partnerships Lead Hannah Coffey, Centre Manager Helen Boyd, Becky Langley, Chair Sophie Milliken and Service Delivery Assistant Diane Lambton © Carol Botten
© Colin Lock

‘It’s so much fun being part of a winning team and a successful, together group. If you believe you can do it, then why not? Just put all your energy into achieving your dreams’

Female empowerment ties both of Becky’s roles together and she’s not taking her eye off the ball at Kingston Park. ‘Our long-term goal is continuing to fight to be in the top division of women’s football in the Women’s Super League,’ she says. ‘Amanda’s ambition is for us to win the Women’s Super League and to be competing in the Women’s Champions League. A key goal of mine is to see North East born-and-bred players getting the opportunity to be full-time professional footballers at the highest level. It’s about winning and developing, and inspiring those who watch us. 

‘Being able to show empathy and care to the people I work with is really important. I try to put myself in their shoes and understand what it feels like to relocate for football; what it feels like to be a young player in a full-time competitive environment and not get game time and not be a part of all the success; what it feels like to be a coach where you might have days where you just don’t have that motivation or you need to inspire someone else to ensure we’re best prepared to win football games. I keep reminding myself to be empathetic towards myself too. Protecting mental health and wellbeing is first on the agenda.’

Before Becky heads off to her next meeting, we ask what’s next for her. ‘The first thing for my professional career is to take Newcastle as far as I can,’ she says. ‘When I leave it’ll be in a much better place than where I found it, but for me it’s about taking this right to tier one in the Women’s Super League. Personally, it’s about every day enjoying what I’m doing, every day being happy, and every day enjoying life with my family, friends, my partner and our little puppy.’ And away she goes to do just that. 

Find Newcastle United Women’s fixtures at and learn more about Smart Works Newcastle at

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