Woman to coach men soon

Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman believes it is only “a matter of time” before a female manager takes full-time charge of a English professional men’s team.

Hannah Dingley briefly took over at League Two club Forest Green Rovers in the summer, but on an interim basis.

Professional men’s clubs in France and Italy have previously appointed female managers on a full-time basis.

“I think it will happen, I’m not sure how long it will take but I think it would be good,” Wiegman said.

Speaking to BBC sports editor Dan Roan, she added: “I think it’s a matter of time and that comes with the development of the game.

“Women are everywhere, women are head of countries and in business too. (But) the balance of women in high-ranked positions, that should be a little more balanced between men and women. In football, we’re not used to having women coaching men at the highest level.”

Dutchwoman Wiegman, 54, became England head coach in 2021, leading the Lionesses to the Euro 2022 title and the World Cup final this year.

Despite suggestions she could succeed Gareth Southgate as manager of the England men’s team, Wiegman says she remains committed to the women’s game.

“My thoughts now are totally not in men’s football, my thoughts are with the women’s game and what we can do,” said Wiegman, who had a spell on the coaching staff of Dutch men’s team Sparta Rotterdam in 2016.

“I really love my job for the FA and with England. This is the highest level, I work with world-class players, in the best facilities and expertise around me for support. I am just really enjoying it.”

However, Wiegman says the women’s game “cannot not be compared” to the men’s and will only become equal with further investment across the sport.

Ensuring there are more female managers in the women’s game, by developing coaching pathways and creating opportunities, continues to be a priority.

Five of the 12 teams in this season’s Women’s Super League – the top flight of English football — are coached by female bosses.

As part of its ‘Inspiring Positive Change’ strategy for the future of women’s football, the Football Association has stated an aim for 75 percent of female coaches to be in manager or head coach roles.

“I think you have to have projects that are giving extra attention to it. We need more women in football, so you have to do extra things,” Wiegman said.

“What the FA is doing now with coaches coming into our environment and exploring is hopefully so they get inspired and want to stay in the game.

“We have to help them and encourage them.”

‘We will do everything’ to reach Olympics

Wiegman is one of the most decorated managers in the women’s game, having led her sides to the final of four major tournaments in a row.

Before her success with England, she led her native Netherlands to the Euro 2017 title before reaching the 2019 World Cup final.

However, it remains uncertain that she will have the chance to lead Great Britain at the next major tournament — the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

England, who are the nominated nation to qualify on behalf of Team GB, must win their Women’s Nations League group to keep their qualification hopes alive. They are currently third with only two games remaining — against the Netherlands on 1 December, and Scotland four days later.

“You want to be at every major tournament, so the Olympics we want to go to. We will do everything in our control to make that happen,” said Wiegman, whose newly-released book ‘What It Takes’ reflects on her life, coaching career, and leadership philosophy.

Wiegman could not have enjoyed a smoother start to her England tenure as the Lionesses went 30 games unbeaten before April’s shock defeat by Australia in a pre-World Cup friendly.

Since then, England have struggled to consistently reach the high performances they produced on their way to winning Euro 2022.

The group recovered to reach the World Cup final in August, when they lost 1-0 to Spain, but last month’s Nations League defeat in Belgium was their third loss in five games.

They face the Netherlands in the Nations League on 1 December at Wembley.

On the possibility of not qualifying for the Olympics, Wiegman said: “In life and football things will sometimes go really well but if not then you have to bring back what you have to do to perform at the highest level.

“I give everything to make it successful and then you can say what worked and didn’t work.

“In Dutch we say ‘we’re not going to sit on the pink clouds’, or be complacent, never. But when things don’t go well you have to stay neutral, we know what we want to do and play.

“Just because we lost against Belgium doesn’t mean we’re not good. The other teams develop too, so we have to keep working.” — BBC Sport.

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