Some of Europe's top female coaches offer their advice for women looking to break into the game.
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2022 was a year like no other for women's football, as UEFA Women's EURO and the UEFA Women's Champions League broke records on and off the pitch, making audiences across Europe and beyond sit up and take notice.
2023 brings fresh opportunities, and for women inspired to take up coaching, there has never been a better time, with more prospects and role models to follow than ever before.
In 2022, both major UEFA women's trophies were lifted by female coaches as Sonia Bompastor led Lyon to the Champions League and Sarina Wiegman secured her second straight Women's EURO triumph, this time with England, before being named UEFA Women's Coach of the Year.
To kick off the new year, we asked Bompastor, Wiegman and some of the other leading female coaches in Europe for their career motivations and advice for women just starting out.
What do you love about coaching?
Sarina Wiegman, England:
"What I love about my job is firstly, football, and then working with people and connecting with people. Now you see little girls and boys, they want to wear a shirt of Leah Williamson, Lieke Martins, and I think that’s so inspirational and maybe that’s the thing we can be most proud of. We are an inspiration for young kids to become a football player, or a coach!
Sonia Bompastor, Lyon:
"I've been passionate about football ever since I was young. I was born into a footballing family. My father was a referee, and my brother was a player, so I spent every weekend on the sidelines of football pitches, and that passion came naturally. What I like is being able to share, to exchange and to pass on what I’ve learnt. When I turn up to the training ground each day, it doesn’t even feel like I’m working. That’s a real gift in life, and I make the most of it every day."
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, Germany:
"I started learning to coach at a very young age and realised I was getting better as a player at the same time. So that is the first thing. The second reason is that now I can do it as a profession, that is, I can pursue my passion, my love, for the rest of my life. I never wanted to sit in an office for hours, instead I'm always outside with young people, I get to travel. I simply experience great things and so it's nice that a job in football coaching now exists at many levels. I love being on the training field. And it doesn't matter if there are eight, nine, or ten-year-old girls standing there or whether I am working with the women's national team. I love what I do and it's a privilege for me. It's a great privilege."
Irene Fuhrmann, Austria:
"I always loved working with people and my ideal scenario was to do it in sport. So, I was lucky to turn my passion into a job. It was always great to help others become better. As I’ve said, it’s a privilege for me to be a coach. It is a job that brings a lot of emotions and where there are always new challenges. This is what makes this job really worthwhile."
What skills or attributes do new coaches need?
"First of all, you have to love what you do. If you want to be successful and a high-level coach, you have to be really committed and then you need to love the game. Trust in your self and have confidence in yourself. I think the phrase, "if she can see it, she can be it" really counts for us."
"Determination. Trust yourself and surround yourself with the right people. It’s important to have people around you who share your values and who have the same vision as you. When you’re passionate about your job, you commit to it all the way. People management is also key, as well as enjoying discussions, both with your players and the staff around you. Enjoy yourself and give yourself the chance to succeed. I’m a mum now, and I have children who play football to have fun and to enjoy themselves. For me, football is a game, and we mustn’t forget that."
"It's nice that a job in football coaching now exists at many levels for women. My only advice is to dare to make your dreams come true and try it out. Sometimes you realise that you didn't really want to be a trainer, but it's still a lot of fun."
"I believe there isn’t just one key to success. For me personally, it’s important to stay authentic. If we think of people like Jürgen Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti, they’re completely different types of coaches, but they’re authentic. And I think that’s crucial. You must know how to manage yourself and cope with stress and pressure. In particular for young coaches, it’s paramount to keep your feet on the ground, to stay down to earth and humble. At the same time, you need to stay brave and assured when you experience setbacks and defeats. Find your own way but at the same time be open to receiving feedback."
Feeling inspired? Check out the UEFA Coach Development Programme for Women
The UEFA Coach Development Programme for Women has offered promising female coaches from across Europe the perfect opportunity to enhance their skills and experience with a view to pursuing a career in football.
The programme does this by providing scholarships and funding to study on UEFA's world-renowned coaching courses (Pro, A, B, C, youth, goalkeeper and futsal), which are delivered via our UEFA's member national associations.
Since its launch in 2016, the programme has funded more than 1,250 scholarships, as well as providing courses for coach educators and technical support for coaching courses and workshops.
An additional helping hand for professional coaches
An additional part of the coach development programme for women is a mentoring scheme to help professional female coaches reach their potential.
Launched in 2019, the scheme gives active coaches who hold a UEFA A or Pro licence the possibility and encouragement to move forward in their careers by pairing them with an experienced, high-profile figure from the coaching world. The next mentor programme starts in June 2023.
The deadline to apply for the mentorship programme and courses and workshops kicking off in the first half of the year is 27 January 2023. Interested coaches should apply via their respective national association.