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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Countdown to Women’s World Cup: Low in numbers but female coaches thrive at major tournaments

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Women's Finalissima - England v Brazil - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - April 6, 2023 Brazil coach Pia Sundhage talks to Brazil's Kerolin Nicoli during the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers/File Photo

From Pia Sundhage to Sarina Wiegman to Bev Priestman, the ninth Women’s World Cup will be a glittering showcase of some of the game’s most successful coaches but 20 of the 32 teams will still have men barking the orders from the touchline.

Twelve female coaches represents a record number for the global showpiece, and is a significantly higher proportion than in most other sports, but some are questioning why it is still not greater.

Vicky Huyton, founder of the Female Coaching Network, said a lack of success was certainly not a factor.

Since 2000, all but one of the major women’s football tournaments – the Women’s World Cup, Women’s Euros and the Olympics – have been won by female-coached teams, she pointed out.

Norio Sasaki, the man who coached Japan to World Cup gold in 2011, is the sole exception.

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“It’s a stat I find fascinating – and it’s a trend across many different sports, but particularly in women’s football,” Huyton said.

Football’s female coaching landscape is a good news/bad news scenario.

Women coaches make up 37.5% at the World Cup, which kicks off Thursday, the same as in 2019 and slightly higher than 2015.

“It’s one of the better sports for female coaches,” Huyton added. “Which is kind of like saying it’s the best of a bad bunch rather than necessarily a positive thing.”

At the other end of the scale are athletics, rugby and tennis. Fewer than 1% of athletics coaches at the world championships or Olympics are women, Huyton said, and only 4% of the top 200 women on the WTA Tour are coached by women.

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Huyton also worries about the lack of new faces among the women who have a top job in international football.

“We now know that female coaches can be successful – how novel,” Huyton said with a half-hearted laugh.

“So the narrative has changed to, ‘Well, how do we get more female coaches?’ Because if you look at the list of women at the World Cup, they’re all the same group of women mostly.”

Sundhage, who coaches Brazil, led the U.S. to back-to-back Olympic golds.

Wiegman coached the Netherlands to the 2017 Euro title and World Cup silver in 2019 before leading England on a 30-game unbeaten streak.

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Germany’s Martina Voss-Tecklenburg also coached Switzerland for six years.

‘VISIBILITY IS HUGE’

FIFA expects the World Cup to reach a global TV audience of two billion viewers, which would be a 79% increase over the highly successful 2019 tournament.

Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt said the mere sight of a dozen female coaches pacing the touchlines Down Under could be a big boost to young women looking to take that career path.

“This visibility is huge for inspiring others … it allows people to see the possibilities,” said Schmidt.

“In the past, it’s been predominantly men. But we have very amazing, talented, gifted female coaches out there and I think the opportunities are there and once you start seeing it, you start believing it.

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“That’s the beauty of having so many female coaches in these head roles.”

Among the biggest barriers to coaching, Huyton said, is certification. The top-level UEFA Pro License course costs close to 10,000 pounds ($13,090) and applicants must have a full-time coaching position at the senior level.

“So where does that woman go to get that experience to then get the qualification?” Huyton asked.

England’s Women’s Super League has helped pave the way for female coaches, with 20 of the 50 total managers over a span of 10 years being female.

The WSL has boasted some of the best in the game, including Hope Powell, the first woman to be awarded the UEFA Pro License in 2003, and Emma Hayes, who has coached Chelsea to seven of the last nine WSL titles, including this year.

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While players’ union FIFPRO does not have an official view on the gender of coaches, Sarah Gregorius said diversity was critical.

“There should be inclusive policies in the way in which coaches are recruited and searched for,” said Gregorius, who directs the union’s global policy and strategic relations for women’s football.

“There needs to be pathways for people from all different backgrounds, genders, identities, whatever it may be, to reach those positions.”

-Reuters

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Colombia 2024: Danjuma invites 32 as countdown begins to Final Tournament

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Flying Eagles, Falconets To Resume Camp On Thursday -

With just eight weeks to their first match of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Colombia 2024, Head Coach Chris Musa Danjuma has called up four goalkeepers, eight defenders, eight midfielders and 12 strikers to a training camp in the Federal Capital, Abuja in the first phase of preparation for the global tournament.

Team captain Oluchi Ohaegbulem is top of the list, with first-choice goalkeeper Faith Omilana, defenders Shukurat Oladipo and Comfort Folorunsho, midfielders Chinyere Kalu, Adoo Yina and Rofiat Imuran, and forwards Janet Akekoromowei, Flourish Sabastine and Aminat Bello also called.

Nigeria, a fixture at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals since the tournament began as an U19 event in Canada 22 years ago, will contend with three-time winners Germany, Asian powerhouse Korea Republic and South American representatives Venezuela in group D of the competition scheduled for three Colombian cities, 31st August – 22nd September.

All the invited are expected at Serob Legacy Hotel, Wuye, Abuja on Sunday, 7th July.

ALL THE INVITED PLAYERS:

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Goalkeepers: Anderline Mgbechi (Delta Queens); Rachael Unachukwu (Nasarawa Amazons); Faith Omilana (Naija Ratels); Shukura Bakare (Nasarawa Amazons)

Defenders: Oluchi Ohaegbulem (Nasarawa Amazons); Jumoke Alani (Nasarawa Amazons); Shukurat Oladipo (FC Robo Queens); Oluwabunmi Oladeji (Naija Ratels); Folashade Adegbemile (Delta Queens); Chidera Okenwa (Delta Queens); Comfort Folorunsho (Edo Queens); Taiwo Lawal

Midfielders: Adoo Yina (Nasarawa Amazons); Olushola Shobowale (Nasarawa Amazons); Aminat Folorunsho (Rivers Angels); Chioma Olise (Edo Queens); Chinyere Kalu (Nasarawa Amazons); Joy Igbokwe (Naija Ratels); Rofiat Imuran (Stade de Reims, France); Zikora Agama (Naija Ratels)

Forwards: Delight Nwosu (Dannaz Ladies); Adaobi Okah (Remo Stars Ladies); Chiamaka Okwuchukwu (Rivers Angels); Chinaza Agoh (Delta Queens); Mary Nkpa (Heartland Queens); Chiamaka Osigwe (Edo Queens); Janet Akekoromowei (Asisat Academy); Mary Offor (Adamawa Queens); Flourish Sabastine (Stade de Reims, France); Sharon Ulumma (Heartland Queens); Aminat Bello (Otero College, USA); Reilly Adebowale (Bohemian FC, Republic of Ireland)   

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Nigeria’s Flamingos drawn against debuting hosts in FIFA U-17 World Cup

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The Flamingos, Nigeria’s U-17 women’s football team have been drawn against hosts, Dominican Republic for the finals of the Women’s U-17 World Cup holding from 16 October to 3 November in two host cities of Santo Domingo  and Santiago de los Caballeros.

 Both Nigeria and Dominican Republic are drawn in Group A along with Ecuador and New Zealand.  In Group B are Spain, USA, Korea Republic and Colombia.

Group C has  Korea DPR, Mexico, Kenya and England while those competing in Group D are  Japan , Poland, Brazil and Zambia.

The hosts will make their debut in the competition on 16 October against Ecuador in Santiago de los Caballeros, with New Zealand and Nigeria completing Group A.

Herrera, the first Dominican woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, had a special message for her compatriots taking part in the World Cup. She said: “I am the living example that you can achieve your dreams. So, keep up the good work. I am looking forward to seeing those amazing games.”

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Reigning champions Spain, meanwhile, will kick off their campaign in Group B, in which they will face USA, Korea Republic and Colombia, runners-up last time around.

“The advice to all the players that will participate here is to be confident and go live your dream. ¡Y Buena suerte!” said Flores, who took part in this tournament two years ago in India.

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Dominican Republic 2024:Flamingos land in the Dominican Republic!

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Nigeria’s U17 girls, Flamingos, have secured their ticket to the 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals to be staged in the Dominican Republic later this year, after a 2-0 defeat of their Liberian counterparts at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday.

Victory took the aggregate tally to 6-1 in favour of Nigeria, with extraordinary poacher Harmony Chidi setting a record of 13 goals in a qualifying series that will be difficult to equal in years to come. She had 11 goals before kick-off, but netted the two goals of the evening to take Nigeria’s total of the series to a whopping 25. Central African Republic fell by a dozen goals while Burkina Faso fell 1-7 on aggregate.

Her first came after only four minutes when she sped past the Liberian defence to toe-poke the ball beyond the flailing arms of goalkeeper Makula Konneh from a cross by Shakirat Moshood.

A goal feast was expected, but this did not happen, as Peace Effiong had a close call in the 17th and Moshood rocked the crossbar a minute after from 20 yards. Moshood also missed from close range with 10 minutes left of the first half.

In the 56th minute, Moshood blasted beyond the goalpost when faced with Konneh, but Harmony Chidi made sure of her brace seven minutes later when she lashed the ball beyond Konneh’s reach as Nigeria seized the ball from a defensive slip-up by the visitors.

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The 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals will be staged in the cities of Santiago de los Caballeros and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, 16th October – 3rd November.

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