Dr Pippa Grange, the psychologist who is the Football Association’s most senior ranked woman, is committed to the organisation and has no immediate plans to leave, The Daily Telegraph understands.
Appointed in January last year as the FA’s first head of people and team development, Dr Grange, 48, came with a strong reputation for improving team and individual performances and has been responsible for building her own team within the FA that serves junior and senior men’s and women’s sides.
The remarks by England rugby head coach Eddie Jones over the weekend that he planned to appoint a psychologist – and specifically a woman – to help his players may have fuelled speculation that Dr Grange was a target for the Rugby Football Union. The FA confirmed that Dr Grange has not been the subject of an approach from the RFU and has not handed in her notice. She observed training for the men’s senior team under Gareth Southgate at St George’s Park on Wednesday.
Among those recruited by Dr Grange was the performance psychologist Dr Ian Mitchell who joined from the FA of Wales in February last year. He was appointed before Christmas to a specific role with the men’s senior team. It is understood that Dr Grange will work across all teams dictating strategy and approach. Among many aspects of performance, her staff will seek to focus on building psychological resilience and good decision-making in players.
She travelled to Russia for the World Cup last summer as did many senior staff at the FA for such a significant event. It is expected that she will also spend time in France this summer during the women’s World Cup although that team will also have an assigned staff member from her department working with Phil Neville and his squad.
Southgate is understood to have bought into Dr Grange’s approach and the encouragement for players to talk openly about their lives and their careers in Russia is thought to have been part of that. Dr Grange is from Yorkshire originally and studied at Loughborough University before going to Australia where her work with rugby league and Australian Rules was widely praised.
Previously the England teams, junior and senior, had worked with consultants such as Lane4, a management consultancy specialising in “people development”. Dr Grange was recruited to build an in-house team at the FA.