During the Semi-Finals of the Women’s European Championships on the evening of August 3rd, Moya Dodd tweeted that whilst there are a very low number of female head coaches in the Women’s game globally, 92% of all Olympic, World and European Women’s Championships have been won by Female Head Coaches.
And that stat looks like it may increase as Sarina Wiegman, the only female head coach left in this years Women’s European Championships take her national team into their very first European Final.
Talent is not something that Dutch women’s football is lacking, in fact, its bursting at the seams. 153,000 women and girls are currently registered as players with the KNVB football department, with the creation of new centre’s of development, increased links with some of the top men’s teams and many Dutch players playing at some of the worlds best football clubs.
This restarting and increased interest in women’s football is paying off – this year, the U17 national team reached the semi-final of their European Championship, while the U19s successfully defended the title they won in 2014. In addition, the decision to appoint Sarina Wiegman as the new national team coach is very symbolic. A former international with 104 caps, she is one of only three Dutch women to hold a UEFA Pro licence. The others are former Netherlands coach Vera Pauw, and Hesterine de Reus, who was Australia’s coach until 2014. What is more, she is the only woman to have coached a men’s team, Sparta Rotterdam B, as assistant to Ole Tobiasen.
Sarina Wiegman embodies the bridge between amateur and professional that Dutch women’s football is currently crossing, and the bridges that it will cross in future. It is also significant that the Netherlands coach retired from playing a few weeks before the KNVB introduced the JPN.”When I was playing at Ter Leede, everyone was amateur – players, coaches … Now a young girl can become a professional footballer and I’ve had the chance to become a professional coach. The difference to when I was a player is like chalk and cheese. We’re moving closer to what I experienced in the American college system when I played over there for a year when I was younger,” she explains. “It makes you think about the future.”
It was the key achievement of Vera Pauw, Netherlands coach from 2004 to 2010, who took her team to the semi-final of the tournament. “Every generation is preparing the ground for the next one. When Vera was coach, she created a platform at the KNVB that has made it possible to improve the conditions for women’s football. That’s the reason why she ultimately led the national team to the EURO for the first time in its history,” says Sarina Wiegman.
Pauw also planted the seeds for others to follow her path. “She’s a real inspiration for me. In any event, women’s football is a sport of passionate people. You can do a lot with very little,”
All 6 games the Netherlands have played have been in front of a sold out home crowd. They have scored 9 goals along the way, scored maximum points in the group stages and went on for their biggest win with 3 goals to nil against England – who were favourites to win the tournament.
They will now face Denmark in the sold out final in Enschede stadium, as either team one will become a brand new winner and only the fourth different team to win the Championships. The Netherlands are only the second hosts to reach the final since the group stage was introduced in 1997, following Germany’s home success in 2001. So can they win? Sarina Wiegman thinks so…
The atmosphere in our camp is fantastic. The players are training really hard. We all have the goal and the dream to win this tournament. We would like to show everyone who we are – to fight and play pretty football if possible. We really believe in ourselves, we have a big dream. It’s fantastic to have made it this far. We don’t really feel any more pressure or stress – it’s the opposite. We feel more confident than before.