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UEFA Career Forum opens pathways for female coaches in Germany

Womens football

Fourteen female coaches came together in Frankfurt to meet club officials from across Germany at the UEFA Women’s Coaches Career Forum, an event that aims to increase the number of women coaches working in men’s football.

UEFA Women's Coaches Career Forum

"If there are no jobs, we won't see more female coaches. It’s crucial to have pathways in both men’s and women’s football."

That was the message from Nadine Kessler, UEFA’s managing director for women’s football, as she kicked off the UEFA Women’s Coaches Career Forum at the German Football Association (DFB) Campus in Frankfurt this week.

The two-day event brought together female coaches from around Germany – all with at least a UEFA Youth B Licence – and technical directors of elite youth academies from men’s professional clubs, allowing them to network and share their knowledge on a number of topics.

By introducing female coaches to counterparts in the men’s game, the hope is to create an avenue for women to work in men’s football, and benefit from the development and career opportunities it provides.

"We have great female coaches, so we, the DFB, will see what we can do to help women gain quicker access to attractive jobs. We need to show alternative pathways for women. We should first identify talented female coaches and develop a career plan with them to help them along their pathway. This is a very important point, and we need to address it."

Andreas Rettig, DFB general secretary for sport

Also in attendance were three trailblazing coaches who are already working in men’s sport: Marie-Louise Eta, assistant coach at Union Berlin; Sabrina Wittmann, head coach of FC Ingolstadt 04; and Nadine Nurasyid, a coach for Stuttgart Surge, an American football team in the European League of Football.

The Forum saw participants take part in panel discussions, workshops, informal exchanges, networking sessions, and speed interviews, while they also attended the EURO 2024 match between Romania and Slovakia at Frankfurt Arena, analysing the match together the following day.

Networking sessions at the UEFA Women’s Coaches Career Forum
Networking sessions at the UEFA Women’s Coaches Career Forum UEFA via Getty Images

Creating opportunities for female coaches

Attendees were welcomed to the Forum by Giorgio Marchetti, UEFA deputy general secretary, and Nia Künzer, DFB sporting director for women's football, who expressed her hope that the event would be the start of many successful careers.

The first panel then followed, featuring Andreas Rettig, Managing Director at the DFB; Dietmar Beiersdorfer, General Secretary of FC Ingolstadt 04; and Kessler, who discussed how to generate more pathways for female coaches from leadership positions.

"The development of female coaches needs to be approached strategically and holistically," she told the Forum. "It’s not just about supporting women to do their coaching courses or further education, employment is key."

"If there are no jobs, we won't see more female coaches. It’s crucial to have pathways in both men’s and women’s football."

Nadine Kessler, UEFA’s managing director for women’s football

She also explained how events like these will make a difference in the effort to increase opportunities.

"We want to draw attention to the current situation, create awareness and establish contacts for talented female coaches," she said.

"But it’s also to introduce decision-makers to female coaches who can be an asset for their clubs."

 Nadine Kessler, UEFA managing director for women's football, speaks during the UEFA Women's Coaches Career Forum
Nadine Kessler, UEFA managing director for women's football, speaks during the UEFA Women's Coaches Career ForumUEFA via Getty Images

Trailblazers offer important insights

One of the highlights of the Forum was hearing words of advice from three women who have already made their way into men’s professional sport.

Wittmann, who became Germany’s first female head coach in men’s professional football when she was appointed by Ingolstadt, urged attendees to take any opportunity they can.

"Take the path if the opportunity arises. I invested a lot to get this job," she said. "My main goal was always to train the best athletes."

Wittmann’s impact was underlined by former Germany international Beiersdorfer, who played a key role in her appointment as the club’s General Secretary.

"Sabrina has developed in our club over many years. There was no question of whether we could trust her to do that," he explained.

"From the very beginning, I was impressed with the way she trains and leads players, how quickly she captures situations, resolves complexity and is able to convey to the players exactly what she expects and what to do."

Dietmar Beiersdorfer, general secretary, FC Ingolstadt 04

Also taking part in the discussion was Eta, the first female assistant coach in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League with Union Berlin. She emphasised the importance of making an impression.

"When you're new to a job, no matter where, you have to prove yourself," she said, reflecting on her first moments in the Union Berlin dressing room. "It was important that I got into action quickly and was able to lead the first training session on the pitch."

The Forum was the latest event in the evolution of UEFA's Coach Development Programme for Women, which since 2016 has offered promising female coaches 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 member national associations across Europe – with Eta one of the 2,000 women who have previously benefited.

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