Female coach spotlight: Naadrah Hafeez (Gladiators)

August 21, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny


Gladiators Boxing Academy coach Naadrah Hafeez believes that strengthening women’s coaching will help more female boxers and coaches come through, as she explains in the fifth of the Q&A series looking at those who are taking part in the inaugural England Boxing Female Coach Development Programme (FCDP).

How did you first get involved in boxing?

I first started boxing because mentally I wasn’t in a good place and physically I was the most unfit I’d ever been. I started boxing to keep fit (mentally and physically) and was training once a week. I was also doing my degree in Sports Coaching at the time and thought it would be a good idea to do my Level 1 coaching in boxing – and I fell in love with the sport. Den and Brandon at Gladiators (located in Huddersfield) really wanted a female coach on the team and supported me with my level 1, and I’ve been coaching ever since!

How pleased are you to be involved in a programme that is actively bidding to push women and girls’ boxing forwards?

I’m very grateful to be a part of the programme. It’s a great opportunity to develop female coaches and I’m so appreciative that Amanda (Coulson), Laura (Sargeant) and everyone at England Boxing have put together this programme. It’s really important that we represent our participants in sport. We have a lot more women and girls coming into boxing and if they see successful female boxers/coaches higher up, then they’ll aspire to be just as great, if not better – so representation is key. I always say in order to achieve greatness, you must surround yourself with greatness, and I think that this programme does just that.

What do you hope to get out of FCDP that can improve you as a coach?

Personally, I really wanted to develop my boxing IQ and planning for long-term development of boxers… thinking more tactically within the sport and supporting the individual needs of each boxer.

How much will attending the FCDP help you when you return to your club environment?

It’s helped a lot already. I’ve started thinking about my coaching in a different way, tactically, technically and psychologically. We discuss so many different approaches to coaching on the programme and it’s great because it gives you a different perspective to coach from, which makes your coaching more holistic. I often come back to the gym and talk to Den about different aspects of coaching and we share and discuss ideas. I think that’s a huge part of coaching – critical thinking,  discussions, testing and trialling new ideas… you can learn from anyone and everyone!

Who are your biggest boxing inspirations?

The likes of Muhammad Ali, Katie Taylor, Canelo, Terri Harper all inspire me, not only in what they’ve done within boxing but also the difference they’ve made outside of boxing and how they carry themselves as people. But if I’m being honest, those who have inspired me the most and have had the biggest impact on me are Den, Brandon and everyone at Gladiators Boxing Academy. From the youngest to the oldest in the gym, with the most or least experience, they all inspire me. Everyone there has taught me something and hats off to Den and Brandon because they’ve created such an inclusive, positive environment. Everyone at Team GBA is trying to better themselves, but also trying to better one another… it’s a family. We all want to see each other succeed. I wouldn’t be the person/coach I am today without them all.