As anticipation for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup grows, it is essential to draw attention to the amazing achievements and underrepresentation of female coaches in the competition.
Only 12 out of the 32 teams competing in this important tournament have female coaches in place of their male counterparts, despite the fact that data clearly show that women coaching women in sports has been successful.
Over the previous 23 years, every winning team in the three main women’s soccer competitions—the Women’s World Cup, the Women’s Euros, and the Olympics—has been led by a female coach, with the exception of Norio Sasaki, who inspired Japan to victory in the 2011 World Cup.
This outstanding record demonstrates the skill and tactical proficiency of women in women’s soccer.
Although there are significantly more female coaches at the World Cup being jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand than there were in 2015, there are still the same number as at the World Cup being held in France in 2019.
It’s good to see Jitka Klimkova, a former Czech Republic soccer player who now coaches for New Zealand, highlight the benefits of having female coaches on the international level.
In Australia, Tony Gustavsson, who took over as head coach in 2020 and has a contract until 2024, is successfully leading the Matildas.
While Tony’s arrival provides the club with great knowledge, there is a critical need for more female coaches in Australia’s W-League. Only four out of ten A-competition Women clubs have female coaches in 2021, a record number in the 13-year history of the competition.
Looking forward to the next 2023–2024 season, which kicks off on October 13, it is depressing to see that just three teams—Wellington Phoenix FC, Western Sydney Wanderers FC, and the Newcastle Jets—will have female coaches. These figures provide a depressing picture of the existing situation and call for action to overcome the gender gap.
The number of female coaches in Australian women’s sports, across all disciplines, is still shockingly low, according to a 2022 research by Fit Education. Only 25% of coaching positions are held by women, which emphasizes the need of making significant changes to foster an inclusive workplace.
The situation of soccer in Australia is especially worrying, since just 137, or 4.66 percent, of the 2,934 licensed coaches are female.
The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) committed $3.9 million to the Gen32 Coach Program at the Australian Institute of Sport in April of this year to address this problem. The purpose of this increased financing is to better support female coaches via initiatives including improved childcare assistance, flexible work schedules, and a three-year paid apprenticeship extension.
The program’s ambitious objective is to treble the proportion of female coaches in sports by the time Brisbane hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032.
Let’s now examine more closely at a few notable coaches competing in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup:
Argentina – Germán Portanova
During his playing career, Germán Portanova traveled the world as a defender. At Deportivo UAI Urquiza, he showed off his coaching abilities by guiding the side to three league titles and three Copa Libertadores appearances. He became the women’s national team manager of Argentina in 2021.
Portanova emphasized his joy at the chance, saying, “Being able to lead the women’s national team is the finest. Defending the flag, the heart, and the motherland is what it means to represent your country.
Australia – Tony Gustavsson
The 14th head coach of Australia, Tony Gustavsson, has a distinguished 21-year coaching career in both men’s and women’s football. Notably, he was an important part of the United States Women’s National Team’s (USWNT) two championship runs.
Gustavsson helped the USWNT win the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada and the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France in her capacity as Jill Ellis’ assistant. He also has an Olympic Gold Medal from the 2012 Summer Games in London, when he supported fellow Swede Pia Sundhage for the USWNT.
Brazil – Pia Sundhage
Brazil is preparing for the greatest challenge under the direction of Swedish coach Pia Sundhage. Given the variety of opponents and the toll that exhaustion and injury may have on players, Sundhage emphasized the need of adaptation in the World Cup.
Brazil’s practical strategy, which relied on its defensive advantages, was effective in helping them win the Copa America in 2022. Amazingly, they scored an incredible 20 goals in their six games without giving up a single goal.
Canada – Bev Priestman
Bev Priestman had a number of coaching posts before to taking over as the head coach of the Canadian national team, including head coach of the English women’s under-18 national team and assistant coach of the English women’s national team.
Priestman has extensive experience and has participated in several FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, Concacaf Women’s Under-20, Concacaf Women’s Under-17, and Concacaf Under-15 Championship tournaments. Her arrival gives the Canadian squad a new viewpoint, and her guidance will surely be crucial to their success.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 is expected to be an exciting competition that displays the remarkable potential and tenacity of female athletes. We must keep advancing gender equality in the sports industry even as we honor the triumphs of female coaches.
We can secure a future where female coaches thrive and contribute to the global success of women’s sports by offering support, opportunities, and removing obstacles.